Back to previous post: A job like any other, a life like any other

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Whole Foods: Selling the highest quality natural & organic wingnuttery

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

January 27, 2010

Open thread 135
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:05 PM *

Kodak introduced its 135 line of film in 1934. It was the mainstay of journalists and hobbyists until the advent of good affordable digital cameras. Most people* who have taken their photography at all seriously have worked with it, including me.

When I was about sixteen, I suddenly discovered my parents’ darkroom1. I’d asked for, and got, a reasonable 35mm SLR camera for the previous Christmas (a Pentax ME Super; I have it still). I read a lot of photography magazines and shot a few rolls of slide film (all the rage at the time).

But one day I was in the basement looking for something or other, and remembered that my parents had said that space was light-tight and set up for developing and printing2. And as I moved all the junk off of the enlarger and found the rather elderly chemicals, I realized that I was fascinated by the idea of developing and printing my own pictures3. Absent some substantial investment, that meant black and white print film, so I abandoned slides and color. (Besides, this was going back to basics. Foundational learning. The heart of photography. I talked like that a lot.)

My parents4 handed me a beaten-up, chemical-stained copy of Horenstein’s Black and White Photography and left me to it.

For about six months, I did nothing else with my leisure time. I’d get a roll or two of film after school on a Friday, shoot pictures in the park on the Saturday, and spend the Sunday in the darkroom developing the previous day’s roll and printing the previous week’s negatives.

My mother said my photos looked like I’d just pointed the camera everywhere and taken pictures. I was (and am) obsessed with pattern and detail: the ways that trees grow and distribute their foliage, the shadow of a window screen on eggshells, the effect of strong side lighting on a single ornament. I struggled to get the camera and enlarger to reveal what I loved about the world.

And one day in the early autumn I realized that I was not Ansel Adams, and indeed had no idea who I was or wanted to be as a photographer. And so I piled the stuff back on the enlarger, left my bottles of developer and fixer and my boxes of paper where I’d found my parents’ old supplies, and locked the door again.

And because life does imitate the circular art of storytelling, my sister wandered into that small, dark space under the stairs fifteen years later, cleared all the junk off of the enlarger and dug out all the chemicals. She photographs people, and does beautiful, painful things with the camera that would never occur to me.

I got back into photography a few years ago, taking more detailed, patterned pictures on a digital cameraphone, but it was a mild dilettantism in comparison. There’s simply nothing like a teenaged darkroom obsession.


  1. Yes, I knew it was there the whole time, under the basement stairs, usually piled high with things we didn’t need enough to keep in a more accessible location.
  2. Its only defects were its small size and a lack of running water.
  3. This is not unrelated to the impulse that drove me into bookbinding.
  4. One of the great gifts of my upbringing was their habit of leaving little land mines of creativity lying around. The darkroom. The mandolin. The loom. The books of poetry. The paintings. Some of these were side effects of their own creative bursts, during which they did an exemplary job modeling craftsmanship, curiosity and obsessive learning.
* [ETA] …of a certain age. I’m sorry if I got hackles up; I’m not used to being one of the Old Folks in the conversation. I shall arise and go now, and grow a lawn so I can tell the whippersnappers to get off of it.
Comments on Open thread 135:
#1 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:39 PM:

I'm semi-seriously thinking about getting BW chemicals and a decent enough scanner for doing BW 120 rolls. I just sent off a few for processing and scanning today, and for the price of that, I'm halfway toward being able to develop them myself.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Speaking of Kodak... HG Wells's Time Traveller refers to it, wishing he had thought to take one with him to the Far Future.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 06:57 PM:

#2: Hey, someone else noticed!

My father had a little darkroom under the stairs when he was a kid. I used his equipment for a little while, and also joined the photography club at the local Boy's Club.

My sister was more enthusiastic about shooting and developing. I don't think she ever got an enlarger; I know we had a wooden contact print box and that's about it.

Someday I'll have to try to explain film photography to my nieces. They are enthusiastic photographers, but I don't think they've ever seen, much less operated, a film camera.

No, I take that back. A certain world-renowned photographer is married to my mother's cousin and always has his camera with him at family get-togethers. He wouldn't touch a digital camera, much less use it. FWIW, he uses 126 roll film.

#4 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 07:14 PM:

My wife has turned our spare bathroom into a dark room. She does gum prints, a sort of cross between photography and watercolor, where the negative is printed onto watercolor paper and washes of watercolor paint bring out the image. Lovely stuff.

#5 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 07:32 PM:

My father did the B&W dark room thing. I have several memorable photos of me from that era. My mother used to say that my father, an only son, was more enamored of my brother, also an only son, that he was of me. I look at those photos, and know, even if my brother may have been the "only son" favorite, I was well and truly loved. You can't take pics like that without love.

When I finally got my first SLR film camera, I took oodles and oodles of tacky snapshot-esque color pics. For amusement's sake, I put in a roll of B&W, and took an entire roll of stunningly amazing candid family shots. I never quite hit that "entire roll" magic again, but now with a digital camera and all its fun buttons, I try the same shot color, sepia, B&W when I can. I never know what's going to be heart-stopping until I get it on the computer screen.

#6 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 07:52 PM:

I grew up in a house with a darkroom when I was little, and spent my teens and early 20's traveling Arizona in a beat up jeep and taking black and white photographs. Won a few awards as a teenager. I wanted to be a photojournalist, but couldn't afford the cost of the paper for college classes. It was just completely unaffordable. So I just messed around with it for years, whenever I could scrape up the money, but eventually I couldn't even afford that.

I've dabbled with modern digital SLRs enough lately to know that everything involved is much cheaper in real dollars. I absolutely loathe the user interface on digital SLRS compared to old, manual SLRs, but I guess that's the price one pays for technology.

(I still have three Minolta 102's, but they don't make most of the really good 35mm films anymore, so they're basically paperweights.)

I miss the scent of acetic acid, though. It's just not photography if you don't smell like a cask of vinegar.

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 07:56 PM:

One of the great gifts of my upbringing was their habit of leaving little land mines of creativity lying around. The darkroom. The mandolin. The loom. The books of poetry. The paintings. Some of these were side effects of their own creative bursts, during which they did an exemplary job modeling craftsmanship, curiosity and obsessive learning.

Indeed -- and the general chaos of my house is a testament to having grown up with that same sort of creative bursts.

#8 ::: Graham Hughes ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 08:00 PM:

I went through a six year fascination with traditional photography. For some reason I just don't get interested in digital printing and digital manipulation; it's all full of computer crap and requires me to wrestle with my printer and scanner and USB dongles, in a way that messing with chemicals isn't, and I can't pin it down more finely than that. Developing is boring but printing is so bloody wonderful, and the process is so very hands* on in a way that clicking with your mouse isn't.

If you're interested in doing it, 120 is a really archaic format in a lot of ways but it's very forgiving and very easy to print and develop. The fact that the contact prints are big enough to actually get detail out of is tremendously important, and almost every enlarger ever made can do a 6x6 negative.

I've found the idea of developing and shooting traditionally, scanning it, and then doing the rest of the process digitally manages to combine the drudgery of waiting around swishing chemicals in a light-tight jar with the hassles of getting your scanner and printer to work right in a way that maximizes the irritation of both and minimizes the satisfaction of either. Accordingly I would suggest getting a cheap enlarger and at least making contact prints traditionally. You'll get interested in the rest pretty fast :)

* I should note that I have a strange psychological obsession wherein if I don't do something physical with my hands at least once a week or so I slowly go batshit nuts. Last couple years I've been doing woodworking instead, but I think I'm a better photographer than I am a woodworker.

#9 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 08:19 PM:

When I was 15 my parents gave me an old Kodak bellows camera that used 135 film, and my aunt, a professional photojournalist, encouraged me to try taking B&W shots. I found I didn't like snapshots particularly, but I loved taking photos of textures and light. I didn't get into developing my own photos for several years, and when I did I discovered color slide film, which had a clarity and contrast that I preferred over color negatives. Developing my own color film was too expensive (especially when my one attempt to do professional work convinced me I didn't want to do that.

Despite looking at and admiring the photos of a lot of the greats, Ansel Adams, Steichen, and especially Walker Evans, I didn't find a photographer whose work resonated with my own vision of things until I discovered Cartier-Bresson. Ironically, he had been since the 1950's, and continued to be until his death, a close friend and colleague of my aunt, something I didn't know until I found a photo of her he took in the '90s.

I used a Nikon SLR that I bought in Japan in the '60s until about 5 years ago, when I switched to digital. That old camera needs some minor repairs, but it worked fine the last time I used it. I don't think they make them that robust anymore.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Take this and jell it as remembered light,
one simple gesture: laughing at a joke
in middle afternoon, and at one stroke
you've got it down, and kept it in plain sight
when all the other moments take their flight
or disappear behind the darkest cloak
of all forgetting. Where the world is broke
but yet we act to make things come out right.
Vision is sure and clear when you are young,
so slow to fade but still the edges pale;
we can't recall the colour of the stone
on the south wall, nor where the laundry hung.
Long years have passed and recollections fail.
Still there is crystal fire within the bone.

#11 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Photography's one of the things I really wish I knew, but that's been going on for about ten years. I got a pretty good film camera for Christmas some years ago, took a loooot of pictures on a trip to Costa Rica and Peru, and then... nothing. I generally don't tolerate being bad at things (working on this one) and the reward of physical pictures is offset by the cost of film and developing, plus I really don't understand composition, so seven hundred pictures, two hundred dollars in developing, and I had a feeling that a Better Person would have spent less, understood more, and gotten better pictures.

This sounds much whinier than it usually is. Part of it's that I know some really talented people with really good equipment; what's the point of me taking a picture if they're around?

That said, Mom and I keep throwing flower pictures at each other. I love color and brightness, her camera can get pretty good pictures of goldfinches across the yard, both of us have digital cameras so email is easy, all good.

#12 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Diatryma @ 11:

One of the things that the photography class I took drummed into me is that it's ok to take lots of pictures and then throw most of them away. Some of them will be bad, some will be perfectly acceptable, but only a few will really be good. I've taken probably thousands of photos by now (although not nearly as often or as many as I should). The reason that people tell me that I do well at it is that they never get to see all the ones that don't work, and even then I don't throw nearly enough of them away.

That said, while I do dearly like film, I went digital because it's more convenient and much cheaper. It also relaxes the inhibition about taking lots of photos, because the only remaining cost is the time spent deleting the ones that don't quite work out. Yes, I can talk all I want about taking photos only to throw them away, but developing costs were a limiting factor.

As to what the point is if other people are taking photos? You're not going to take the same photos that they do. You'll have a different angle, or a different idea about how something should look, or decide that you think that the subject of the photo should be something else entirely. And they'll be yours. I certainly don't think a lot of my photos are brilliant, but they mean something to me for having made them.

#13 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Abi @ 771 in OT 134:

...this community tends to ride libertarians pretty hard...

As one of the libertarians in this community, and comparing Making Light to other forums, I'd word that a little more gently: You people You all don't let me get away with unstated assumptions. By way of contrast, I was banned from Free Republic for mentioning the ACLU.

#14 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:13 PM:

I would like to consult the collective intelligence here. I'm in correspondence with a gentleman in the UK who is working on a book on ornamental turning. He is realistic about the total potential market which is about 500 copies.

The work involves reproduction of material from a variety of sources. The illustrations include photographs of lathes and chucks, engravings from 19th century magazines, and plates of cycloidal patterns produced by substituting paper for the material to be turned and a pencil or pen for the cutting tool.

He has about 1200 pages of material and I've already advised him that the economics of the printing business dictate that he would be better off to split it into 3 or 4 volumes. Is there a print on demand solution that would produce acceptable quality? What binding options are available? I've suggested that he offer a numbered and signed collectors edition and a more utilitarian edition.

This book represents an effort to preserve material that is totally unique and in danger of being lost forever if not reproduced. He would like to produce enough revenue to pay some of the costs he has born in preparing the work.

For the curious, Google: ornamental turning, rose engine lathe, and Holtzapffel lathe. Be sure and look at the image results for Holtzapffel lathe. These machines are a steampunk's wet dream. Built of brass, steel, and mahogany many are still in use 150 years and more after they were made.

#15 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Howard Zinn dies at 87.

New York Times Obit here.

Love, C.

#16 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Stefan@3: "126" is not "roll film", and is an unlikely (though nothing is impossible) format for a "world-renowned" photographer to use. (126 is "Instamatic" cartridges, which were replaced by 110 "pocket instamatic", which was replaced by the "disc camera", which was replaced by auto-focus P&S 35mm cameras in the 1980s. Maybe "120", the most common film "medium format" cameras like the Hasselblad?)

Abi: Cool. My first darkroom likewise lacked running water. But I had to build it and equip it from scratch. I got a Durst M35 enlarger (35mm only). The framing (but not the black plastic that formed the walls and ceiling) are still there in what is now my sister's basement. I've got negatives going back to 2nd grade, didn't build the darkroom until 10th grade, after I'd gotten my first SLR. I'm mostly a people / documentary photographer; still.

The "135" (still 35mm) film format refers as much to the packaging as to the film size itself. They took the standard professional movie film and re-packaged it for use in still cameras (using twice as big a space as the movies did; the film moves vertically in a movie camera, horizontally in a still camera, so they're both "landscape" format). The movie film format was introduced in 1892. (The movie heritage is why the sprocket holes are so dominant a feature; they had to move the film reliably through the camera and projectors at 16 frames per second or so, eventually standardizing on 24 frames per second in the sound era.)

#17 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Fragano@10: Ooh, I like that a lot. That seems to capture a bunch of things.

#18 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:44 PM:

Stuart @ 14 ...
I would like to consult the collective intelligence here. I'm in correspondence with a gentleman in the UK who is working on a book on ornamental turning. He is realistic about the total potential market which is about 500 copies.

... and in the small world that is makinglight, I believe I've already heard about the book in question, and am rather likely to be part of the total potential market (which I suspect may be larger than he thinks, given the correct price point...)

#19 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Stuart@12: I'm no expert, but I've seen a photo book from Lulu. It wasn't coffee-table quality, but it was roughly textboook quality; good enough on the images and color to convey information without it being unpleasant to look at.

I certainly support his goal of getting some payback for time and money spent documenting this very cool stuff. In the end, though, for his basic purpose of keeping the information extant, he should consider making sure the full digital archive is eventually released onto the net, so people don't have to find one of the 500 copies (if his estimate is correct) of the printed book down the road. Possibly arrange for it to be released after his death, or something.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Stuart, 14: make that 501--my brother would adore it.

#21 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Oops, should have been "Stuart@14", sorry!

#22 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 10:54 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 19 ...
Stuart@14: I'm no expert, but I've seen a photo book from Lulu. It wasn't coffee-table quality, but it was roughly textboook quality; good enough on the images and color to convey information without it being unpleasant to look at.

I'd be a bit leery about that -- part of the joy of things like ornamental turning is being able to extract as much detail as possible, to get a better understanding of how it was done...

#23 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:03 PM:

B&W developing: Doing your own film developing is rather important in B&W (or having a lab or employee who will do exactly what you need; for a hobbyist, that means doing it yourself). The range of films is fairly large (still), and the range of commercial developing chemistry is very large (still), and you can go beyond that because you can formulate your own chemistry with relatively few easily-available chemicals.

You can optimize for light-sensitivity ("speed"), or for lack of grain, or for resolution. You can compress or expand the brightness range, non-linearly. Water bath development, two-part developers, solvent vs. non-solvent developers, and so forth and so on. And "staining" vs. "non-staining", if you go back far enough (I never worked with Pyrocatechol myself).

Ansel Adams' work on the "zone system" included documenting and characterizing a lot of these options. At the time he shot mostly sheet film, so each sheet could be marked for different development (with rolls of film, it's not terribly practical do try to develop different parts of the same roll differently). In addition to his Basic Photography series, which is first-rate for traditional B&W processes, he wrote a book called Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, which shows 40 of his photos, including quite a few famous ones, and recounts as much as he remembers about what options he considered, what he did in exposure and processing and printing, and why he did those things. As usually when looking over an expert's shoulder, you don't really need to be able to do it yourself to learn quite a bit from hearing what he says.

I haven't developed film since 1985. In my darkroom days, I mostly used D76 diluted 1:1 for Tri-X and Plus-X at rated speed. I used Autofine for a while as well. I used Acu-1 (one-shot version of Acufine) for pushing Tri-x to 1200. For some reason, I never got friendly with Diafine, which should have been my main developer I think. And I didn't make enough use of pushing Tri-X to 4000 using HC110 replenisher; I've gotten several lovely pictures out of that, despite the fog levels and the weird film curvature that results.

I'm all-digital these days, and have been doing any printing I do digitally since about 1994. Some interesting growing pains there, but I've made a lot of good prints. And I'm really enjoying displaying photos on the web, too; a lot more people seem to see them, and even comment on them now and then.

#24 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Xeger@22: It does sound like some of this material could really benefit from photogravure printing, say. But that's a HUGE upfront expense and a high per-copy price, too. I'm not saying Lulu is "good enough", just trying to describe the level of quality I saw in the book.

#25 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:18 PM:

At the Door

Where are you going, little girl?
I am taking some sweets to my sick grandma, Mister Wolf.

Bitch, she calls her, and Slut
This is one of the good days,
when she does not recognize her at all,
but rails at this stranger who has come into her house.
Far worse are the days when the girl is mistaken
for her mother, or her aunt,
as she holds the hand of the woman with mad bright eyes,
eyes that somehow still hold flashes of gold.
Her hands tremble as she doses out the medications
(she has to hide them, these days,
lock them away in secret cupboards and hide the keys.
The mind is dimmed but the body is still agile.)
The lack of sleep is constant these days. Every night
up to put the woman back to bed
tell her the dog is fed
(Mischa died many years ago)
the furniture is where it needs to be
it is not dawn, it is not dawn
the cows do not need to be milked.
In return she gets the accusations,
the insinuations that she is a thief, a whore,
a stranger keeping the woman away from those who love her.
In vain she tries to remember the friendly voice,
the soft hands, the scent of cookies,
the laughing days at the house with the butter-yellow walls.

When the doorbell rings, she starts;
her friends, so few, rarely bother to come by any more.
Suddenly frightened, the woman proclaims,
"Don't open the door, not the door,
There are wolves out there.
The wolves are at the door."
As she signs for the delivery, those medications she will have to hide,
she looks over and sees in those fear-filled eyes the flash of gold and thinks, No,
the wolves are not at the door.

The wolves got you long ago.


N.B: Caretakers have almost a 25% increased chance of dying before their patients. The theory is that this is due to stress and physical strain.

#26 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:20 PM:

I did black and white photography for years (started back in middle school, did it all through high school and college and, to my great shame, have not even taken my 35mm bodies out of their traveling case since I moved after college) . I found great joy in developing my own film (I am completely devoted to TMAX for black and white - I just love the sharpness) and relished the challenge of doing large prints well, and the manual skills I learned doing that have served me well until the present day (I now work in neuroimaging, where the same kind of eye is required to assess data).

I find that there is an immediately obvious difference looking at work done by people who learned on film and those who learned with digital - and I believe that a great something has been lost in that transition. I have a colleague who is trying to be a professional photographer without having mastered the basics in the almost meditative way that film forced you to - and it shows in her work. There is something to be said for telling those who aspire to do good photography to get some film, get some chemicals and to learn the hard way (as it is a far more rewarding way to learn than inconveniencing uncounted multitudes of electrons).

Great, now I miss my darkroom (I had the great good fortune in college to work for a lab which had their own darkroom - during my three years in the lab, it was, for all intents and purposes, mine).

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:20 PM:

#16: 120 most likely; the wide rolls with metal spools.

When there was a rumor the B&W was going out of production Lee bought crates of the stuff . . .

#28 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:41 PM:

My father used the upstairs bathroom as a darkroom when I was about young - light-tight blind, red lamp, sandbag thing along the bottom edge of the door to block light, developer/fixer trays in the bathtub, enlarger clamped on a sheet of heavy plywood over the sink & vanity - so darkroom chemicals are one of those deep-in-the-bone scents that mean "childhood" to me in some strange way, like yeast and cinnamon.

He's never gotten back into darkroom stuff again, but I was heavily into it in high school; my senior high had a very nice darkroom - three good enlargers, enough space for three or four of us to work at a time. Took some very nice B&W shots, especially on a family trip to Mexico. My photography teacher was also awesome, and helped keep me sane during Grade 11...

I still have my used Minolta XE5 SLR and a couple of lenses, but I haven't even touched it in a couple of years, and haven't shot B&W for longer than that. Awesome camera, no electronics beyond the lightmetre, and I think it's almost as old as I am. My little Canon digital P&S is great, but not the same.

OTOH, my digicam is the size of a pack of cards, and is ALWAYS in my pocket. Having a camera, any camera, on you all the time means you get some good shots even if it isn't the greatest camera in the world.

That high school darkroom was probably replaced by a bunch of PCs ages ago for "photography" class. Pity.

#29 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2010, 11:51 PM:

B. Durbin @ 25 ...
Brrrrrr.

Damn!

#30 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:17 AM:

I much preferred playing with the printing to figuring out what to shoot. Darkroom sessions tended to end up being six hours long no matter what I wanted to do. I've done some good photos, but not in quite a long time. Haven't managed to get hooked on digital, but my, isn't it cheaper!

#31 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:24 AM:

B. Durbin.

Yes.

#32 ::: Paula Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:27 AM:

I don't feel like such a dilletante npw. I also had a brief fling with photography and actually got good at composition, but we got poor and the costs got too high.

#33 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:52 AM:

I was going to compose new text to this thread, but I realized that I already have it in a back issue of my own (mostly dormant) site.

A teaser for you:

I can remember one image, of a lady "of a certain age" who had such a marvelously youthful mien that was lost completely if I printed the image as taken. Eventually I used my loup to focus the sharpest I could on the film grain, and then backed-off the focus just so, and underexposed the paper just that little gradient to appease that faction of "art," and found the face that my eye had seen, and the film had hidden.

#34 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:12 AM:

I know that half the secret of good photography is taking so many pictures you can toss the bad ones and no one notices, but I am not quite there yet. It's kind of the feeling I got rereading an Elizabeth Moon book-- "I want to be this heroine. Except I totally could be, if I did X, Y, and Z more consistently. I am not willing to do those things. Um."

The astronomy class at my high school was, until recent years, a photography course better than that offered by the art department. It's all lenses and capturing light, after all.

#35 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:18 AM:

B. Durbin @ 25

My mother is in a nursing home about 90 minutes away from where I live. Mid-90s in chronology'

When I visit the easy times are when I sit and play my harp while she drowses or sleeps.

Other times I just sit and agree with what she says. Usually she recognizes my wife, and the boys.

I often get mistaken for my brother or a social worker, or someone from her past I never knew. And she tells of a life that doesn't exist, and never did.

On those days I try not to cry on the drive home.

My mother is there. My mom is gone.

#36 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:32 AM:

Diatryma, #11: Kathleen Sloan says it better than I can:
Take it back! Take it back! Take back the right to sing and play.
It will fill your heart, it will feed your soul, when you take back the right to sing and play!

If only the people who are "really good at it" do things, how does anyone ELSE ever get to be really good? One of the most pernicious myths of our culture is that only the best performers, the best artists (in any given medium) "deserve" to contribute.

I'm used to arguing this about music -- a hundred years ago you couldn't just pop a CD or DVD into the player, and professional entertainers were too expensive for most people, so people made music for themselves, and a lot of them got pretty darned good at it. But you can say much the same thing about any other art form; it's the mark of a passive society when ordinary people feel that they aren't allowed to create art just because they're not professional-level. What's the point of doing it yourself when there are professionals out there? It's to have something YOU did, and the joy of having done it.

I was never much of a film photographer, and the best film camera I ever had (from my POV) was a little 110 that I bought at K-Mart for $20 back in 1985 or thereabouts. But the process of taking pictures was tedious, and film and processing were expensive, and it just wasn't something that ever much appealed to me.

The digital revolution has been a revelation. My partner* gave me an inexpensive digicam, a "Push Here, Dummy" camera, a little over a year ago, and... well, you can see what happened. It's given me a whole new interesting hobby!

B. Durbin, #25: Wow. I have a friend who's dealing with that right now. May I point her here?


* Who was a film-camera enthusiast, and who has been observed looking at me with an expression that says, "Good ghod, what have I wrought?"

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:57 AM:

I still have three film cameras, an old (50+ years old!) Argus that Dad took to Antarctica when he wintered over in 1961-1962, a Petri 35mm SLR I bought in Japan in 1973, and a Canon A-1 that was a gift from my parents in the early 1980s. I was never anywhere near a darkroom, so I don't know if I'd have gotten hooked on the developing process, but heaven knows I took a lot of film pictures (I once got a book, The Joy of Photographing People; I had so many landscape shots my father gave it to me as a joke).

When I upgraded from a Canon Powershot 110 digital to a Canon Powershot 600 the built-in zoom went from 2X to 3X. Before that I still dragged out the A-1 for wildlife shots because I had a 35-105mm zoom for it.

#38 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:05 AM:

#13 Allan

You got banned for mentioning the ACLU?!

Sounds like extremist nut cultists....

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 03:57 AM:

B Durbin @25:

Well, that got me crying. My grandmother-in-law went through that stage a couple of years ago.

She forgot most of the rest of the world after that, and finally slipped away this last Monday morning. When she died, what hurt me first was the loss of that secret hope that one day she would open her eyes and be her old self again.

#40 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:04 AM:

Did anybody notice that Stephen Colbert came down on Harold Ford Jr. this week? As much as I love ya'll here, that was really freaking funny!

#41 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:54 AM:

I'm something of a lazy point-and-shooter who makes up for a lack of knowledge about technique and composition by taking pictures of things that are intrinsically interesting (animals, plants and the odd landscape) and relying on the "yeah, it looks okay to me" factor. Having said that, I do make decisions about exposure and often bracket my shots where I can.

Some of the fun I derive from photography comes from overcoming certain limitations: a DSLR with just two lenses or a simple compact camera, ambient lighting, no tripod/monopod. If I have to crouch over a mushroom in dappled light or lean against a fence to take photos of birds in a tree and control my breathing and the tendency to sway -- a good result can be very, very satisfying.

#42 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 07:50 AM:

#41 mcz:

Getting a good or even great photo in challenging conditions always satisfying. One of my favourite recent ones was a moving train at night in snowy conditions, with the station lamps as the only illumination.

Same with concert photography in small club venues with poor stage lighting; I remember trying to get some decent photos of the Welsh prog band Panic Room at a gig in Swansea (not the one Hedgehog was at, another one later in the year at a different club) - all the lighting was coming from the side of the stage, which meant the lead singer's face was permanently in shadow. Didn't manage to get a single good image of her at all, although I did get a couple of great ones of the guitarist.

Which brings us to another subject - I seem to have had a personal falling out with a former member of a band of which I'm a huge fan (I won't name names because I don't want Google to find this comment); he was trying to embroil fans in inter-band politics, and I wanted no part of it. Is it worth attempting to mend fences, or is it simply better to let sleeping dogs lie?

#43 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 08:03 AM:

Lee, #36: Agreed. One idea that can be liberating is that you don't have to show everything you do to the world.

Every artist has sketchbooks full of crappy practice drawings. It's just like taking lots of photos: you work, and practice, and if you work and practice enough, whether or not you're a genius artist, you'll end up with a certain amount of work worth feeling proud of, and sending out into the world.

#44 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 08:13 AM:

Afriend of mine has bought her 5 year old daughter a reasonable digital camera, because she liked using her childrens one so much, and was careful with it. My nephew has a digital camera now as well, and he's the same age. I don't know if it'll help their development as photographers, but I'm sure it gives a more unusual viewpoint, above knee height.

I can see them never using film at all, but they need to learn what photos to keep and what to delete.

#45 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 08:19 AM:

Lee @#36: I always wished there had been a sequel to that book--at least, assuming I have identified the source of your Flickr ID correctly.

And, because B. Durbin's poem reminded me of something I did a while ago:

Falling

Hush little baby
she sings over her daughter's cradle,
this daughter black as ebony, red as blood,
and pale, even the linens look dun
against the tiny face.

Hush little baby
because that's all she's going to be able to give her
because she's chilled to the bone
because the snow is falling, making an envelope of silence
because she fears for her daughter, soon to be motherless.

Hush little baby
will have to stand in for all a mother's advice
not to fear the woman your father will marry
not to be too trusting of strangers
not to wait for a prince to rescue you.

Hush little baby
one more time, but it's hard to speak now
and she couldn't call to her ladies even if she wanted to
and anyhow she wants this time
with her daughter.

#46 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:02 AM:

B. Durbin @ 25 Oh. Very evocative.

Carrie S. @ 45. Nicely written.

Photography/Darkrooms: When I was a child my mother had a darkroom; I was too young to appreciate it at the time. However, she got permission to go take pictures during rehersals of the local chamber orchestra and she still has some wonderful B&W shots she took of the conductor - just the face and hands visible. Also, somewhere in the famly albums are the "trick" pictures, where she cut out a picture of one of us sitting down, placed it onto a piece of fruit or a pepper or similar and took another picture - voila! -child sitting on giant fruit. Of course, everyone can do far more tricks much better with Photoshop nowadays.

Never got much past "point and shoot" myself, but digital photography removing the processing costs means I can take laods of pictures when I want to - mountains, animals, trees, waterfalls - and some of them come out pretty well. The 10 x optical zoom helps tremendously for the animals (I used to take all these pictures with the animal as a little speck in the middle).

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:22 AM:

Photography has always been a hit-or-miss thing for me, but not an expensive one anymore, with digital cameras, even though the results are more likely to be misses than hits. Still, sometimes I take photos I'm proud of, like this one, even though its working out was a total accident.

#48 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:56 AM:

Kodachrome

(Says it all, doesn't it.)

#49 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:14 AM:

The Leica camera was using the 35mm film format before Kodak packaged it as a commercial film. The first commercial release of the Leica was in 1925. You had reloadable cartridges, and a special template to cut the leader of the film.

Once Leica cracked the problem of interchangable lenses, finding ways to overcome the slight variations in optical focal length so that any lens would fit any camera, all you need is the M-adaptor, and any Leica rangefinder lens can be used in any Leica M-series camera, including the latest digital models.

Although there is a vignetting problem with wide-angle optics, arising from the difference between a digital sensor and photographic film.

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:15 AM:

B. Durbin: Chilling and moving.

#51 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:25 AM:

guthrie@44: I'm kinda jealous of kids growing up now (in some ways). I was badly constrained in my photography by the cost of film and processing up until 1969; these kids get handed down a more-capable camera than I had before 1969, far better post-processing capabilities (in Gimp, say) than I had in the darkroom, and it doesn't cost anything. (Having the computer already available is part of the assumptions there of course, and of course is not true for every child on the planet.)

Digital is amazingly better than film for learning, especially for children. It drastically shortens the feedback cycle -- try something, see the result nearly instantly (sometimes you need to transfer the data to the computer and look at it on the big screen, if you're doing anything subtle). When I had to make a roll of film stretch for weeks, I wasn't of a mind-set where I could keep focus on just what I intended to learn from various photos when I finally got them back; and that is even worse if you weren't deliberately trying an experiment.

In the film era, developing the discipline to reliably produce technically competent images was a key part of becoming a photographer. Professional work demanded reliability above all else, and it got frustrating even to an amateur if you frequently got unexpectedly unpleasant results.

The whole technical side has become tremendously easier in the digital era, both inherently, and because you can easily check instantly in the field what you're capturing; so the detail oriented hyper-focus on technical details is much less crucial, which means there's room for more personality types to fairly easily get into photography. This can only result in a wider range of interesting pictures being made!

#52 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:00 AM:

B. Durbin @ 25 -- That's very powerful stuff. Please consider offering it to organizations that offer support for caregivers.

Diatryma @ 11 and others re: not-quite-good-enough art: I create because I get an idea and need to explore it. I don't think there's any art form in which I'm anything like "one of the best" -- except, necessarily, "the art that Joel creates" -- and some things aren't all that great, and most don't really come close enough to what I really want for my satisfaction. But there are occasional happy surprises, and other people generally like my creations well enough.

Lately I've been using much of my (sadly limited) creative energy trying to make a design for a novelty toque come out giving something close to the observer-impression that I have in mind. Every attempt takes about a day and a half or two days, plus materials... but I want to get it right. And I think that even the "failures" will be appreciated as goofy gifts.

#53 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:04 AM:

Living with a photographer, I've absorbed lots of stuff. I also took a photography class a little while back, which was loads of fun.

My fiancé, Keith, learned on film (both in class and in his first internship and job at a fashion photography studio), but really came into his own with digital. He says that film vs. digital is not really the issue: it's learning in full-manual mode on an SLR. When he teaches people about photography, he tells them to turn their digital SLRs to manual mode, put on a 50mm prime lens, and shoot for a month with that setup. Shooting manual forces you to master the technical aspects of your tools, and using a prime lens forces you to think hard about composition. There will be a learning curve. But it will be worth it. (I haven't yet tried this experiment; I cheat and use aperture or shutter speed priority modes, and sometimes program mode, which is almost like automatic. I should go manual.)

He covets medium- and large-format film cameras, but loves his digital setup for working photography. You can instantly preview shots, and with the right software, you can make a first pass through processing an entire shoot in a couple of hours.

I can appreciate the tactile aspects of working in a darkroom. While I've never done it, I like the feeling of physically working with things to make other things, and working on a computer doesn't scratch that itch for me in quite the right way. I like to make things on the computer -- it's a real thrill when I make a piece of software that works -- but it's something different from making something with my hands.

Processing photos on the computer does satisfy Keith, though. He can work in a darkroom and has, but derives no particular enjoyment from it. He derives enjoyment from the intellectual and creative process of making an image, much more than from the particular tools he uses to do it. He seems to just want the tools to not get in the way. With the right workflow setup, digital tools get out of his way and let him focus on the images.

We do have an old Kodak Duaflex II camera (a gift from my grandmother, who had it from new), which takes 620 roll film. 620 film is no longer made. The camera does have a spool -- and technically I could buy 120 roll film and respool. I haven't yet bothered to do so. I'd like to play with it, though -- and let Keith play with it and see what he does.

I bet Keith's favorite photography store would both sell him the 120 film, and probably even do the respooling. They like him.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:05 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet #17: Thanks!

#55 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Lee:

Yes! I think something similar happens with most people w.r.t. science--like they figure there's no point trying to understand it, or even to take part in some way, because they haven't served the required time studying the subject.

ISTM that real golden ages in most fields happen when lots and lots of people get access to the tools and knowledge necessary, and start playing around with something--whether that's music or poetry or programming or evolutionary biology or combinatorics.


#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:19 AM:

B. Durbin #25:

That was very powerful.

#57 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:19 AM:

#36 ::: Lee

Greatness does not come out of a vacuum, but from a large number of people striving to DO SOMETHING, a large number of people who are vitally interested, and also, for whom the activity is fun. You wouldn't have had Shakespeare without all the other people he knew around him working in the theater, thinking about the theater, writing for the theater, dreaming of the theater, in every capacity.

Music, in particular -- that it has in so many ways in this country at least, become to be something done by 'professionals,' performers demarked off as separate and somehow superior to the rest, has been a terrible thing for music per se. Music is as old as language. It belongs to us all. It holds the record of our species'stime on earth. It's difficult for musicians to get really good without the audience. The best way to hear music is dancing. I could and would go on and on, to everyone's dismay. So wuill dismount, and get ready for the Haiti teach in.

Love, C.

#58 ::: Douglas Henke ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:39 AM:

B. Durbin @ #25: I am going to print that out.

I am going to print that out, and I'm going to hand it to the next person who asks why I have a bottle of pills labeled "If you don't remember what these are for, take them all."

#59 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:50 AM:

I had lots of fun with what are now classed as "oddball" film formats (like the 620, 128 and 828 films) from some oldish (not-quite antique) cameras that I picked up at Post-Office actions of undeliverable packages.

They were battred enough, yet new enough to considerd just more trouble than worth for collectors and most resellers, but I had fun with them.
[[arning, photobug neep may follow]]
I especially liked the landscape format to the 120-sized film that the 620 format gave me, and forced me to be creative in composition and use -- the camera was old enough that it didn't have an x-sync, so my strobes didn't give full coverage (what is now classed as the "B-Sync" triggers when the shutter fires, so as to allow time for the bulb to fire and reach full intensity/burnout when the shutter is fully open, the "X-Sync" for electronic flashes triggers when the shutter is either fully-open (for a leaf shuttr) or the exposure curtain (for a focal-plane sutter) is fully out of the way))

For a leaf shutter, this results in a very intense section of the negative (sometimes a very *small* section)that has "full" exposure, with the rest of the negative at exposure for available light only.

For a focal plane shutter, this means that a strip of the negative is exposed to the flash and the rest of the negative is either blank or at available light levels.

To overcome this, I used to set the cameras on "open shutter" and hand-fire the strobe.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

But, after the bulb flash failed, and it wasn't worth trying to find a source to get bulbs anyway, that was my most viable option.

[[/end neep//]]

My first "real" camera was a Yashica-D twin lens reflex. I actually had two of these puppies, both were stolen.

The "vintage" cameras were lost to me by virtue of my divorce.

My, how we blather on...

#60 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Craig R. @33 quoted himself: I can remember one image, of a lady "of a certain age" who had such a marvelously youthful mien that was lost completely if I printed the image as taken. Eventually I ... found the face that my eye had seen, and the film had hidden.

This is one of my major art-goals with photography -- taking candids or semi-posed shots of people (both family and strangers) that actually look like THEY look when you're TALKING to them, instead of getting their "You're taking my picture" face or some random weird microexpression.

I'm an amateur with some skill. I can say this because my mother and grandfather both are/were professionals, chemistry and all; my grandfather spent over ten years as the official photographer for the Miss America pageant, inter multi alia. He used to finish off almost all his rolls on me when I was a child, so I now have reflex-level trained posing instincts.* I have to consciously remind myself not to overthink it when people aim a camera at me and are only going for snapshots. :->

On the other side of the lens, I can't hack the chemistry, so will probably never have a darkroom. I transpose digits in my head while trying to remember exact values, so I have a camera that does auto-exposure and such. But I've spent the last fifteen years or so trying to be mindful and critical of my own photography -- to try to figure out what makes one of my shots look 'right' to me and another 'off' -- and been trying to gradually up the percentage of them that I love.

I also amuse myself sometimes noticing the 'cliches' in my work: the things that will automatically, nigh-Pavlovianly, cause my artbrain to sit up and go OOOOH SHOOT THAT. A nonexclusive list: shadows, peeking through holes in things, silhouettes, the fractal nature of trees, repeated parallel lines or curves, interesting clouds/skypatterns.


----
* Posing skill comes in handy when doing things like having ID pictures taken -- everybody's always flabbergasted at how well I get those to come out. It helps when you KNOW that lit-from-the-top, straight-on, level-shot portraits are the SINGLE most unflattering set of options available, and have some tools to bring to bear to 'work it' a little.

A few ID photo tips for the interested:

  • consider hairstyles, jewelry, and what you're wearing that day in terms of graphic design -- keep it simple, with bold colors that compliment your own looks. Beiges or busy-ness will only look bad.
  • Lift your chin slightly for jowl-mitigation; also press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  • Smile with your eyes (practice in a mirror beforehand). Think of something that makes you very happy, or something that is outstandingly cute; now feel what your eye-corners and upper cheeks do when you smile from it. Then learn to copy that. Takes a while, but pays off SO MUCH in not looking like a convict. Mostly they don't let you smile with your mouth, but they don't object to using the rest of your face to look pleasant and trustworthy.
  • Find the light and angle your face slightly into it. Practice this at home, too, if you like, with a poseable desk lamp in a dark room with a mirror. Put the single light source in all kinds of positions relative to your head and see what the shadows it throws do to your face (mostly bad things). Then try subtly angling your face a bit, and pick what makes you look best.

#61 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:14 PM:

I'm wondering when B. Durbin will have enough poems collected to have a chapbook published. I think the trees involved, if asked, would willingly sacrifice their all for such a worthy goal.

#62 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Elliott Mason, I usually photograph badly, and I am glad of the posing tips. My Facebook profile picture is the single example of me not in a group and not looking like a mole available when I joined up. The jowl thing will be really useful.

Various others, I know that my lack of skill shouldn't be a hurdle, but right now isn't the time for me to fail a lot at anything, even in pursuit of incredible success. Any tips on how to make things and see the whole rather than every tiny flaw? I don't do it with other people's work, but I can take only so much of my own before perfectionism kicks in.

#63 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:09 PM:

A general question about the whys of DSLRs:

As far as I understand it, one of the main reasons for the existence of the SLR movement is that you get to see through the viewfinder exactly what will be captured on the film; it won't be offset. What is the point of doing this on a digital camera, where you can take the signal from the CCD and put it straight onto an LCD screen?

Diatryma @ 62:

Now that I'm not sure I can help you with, sad to say. I think that being self-critical is one of those sorts of things that goes hand-in-hand with making something of your own. All I can do is try my best to ignore it and focus on the things I like, but it doesn't always happen.

Sometimes it helps (it makes me more motivated to try to get my dancing right). Sometimes it doesn't (why I will probably never play clarinet again).

#64 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Diatryma: I forget where I saw it, probably theonlinephotographer.com, but the essence was to ask:

When you're editing, do you look for what works, or do you look for problems?

I think it helps to look at famous works, and to see that they're not all technically perfect. But invariably, there's a story.

Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. Personally, I'd go the hairshirt method and shove a 50 on and go full manual for a while.

#65 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:18 PM:

KeithS @ #63 - One reason is that the LCD can be washed out in bright light. Another reason is that it can save power.

#66 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Can anyone identify this giant mole-like animal my dog found? (And ATE . . .)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan_e_jones/4311353641/

#67 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Eric #64

Don't know the precise technical reasons, but the big difference between a DSLR and a compact or so-called 'bridge' camera is that with a DSLR you have no shutter lag.

If you do landscapes of posed portraits it doesn't really make much difference - but as soon as you start on moving subjects that half-second of shutter lag makes the difference between a perfectly composed picture and something you'll immediately delete.

Doing train photography using a bridge camera I adjusted by estimating the speed of the train to predict where it would be when the camera took the picture - 50mph was about one-and-a-half carriage lengths. With a DSLR what you see in the viewfinder at the instant you press the shutter is the image you get.

#68 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 66:

Looks kind of like a gopher to me, but I can't really tell for sure.

#69 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:35 PM:

KeithS@63: First of all, until recently DSLRs didn't support "liveview"; the sensors they used didn't support real-time video output, so the reflex viewfinder was the only way to see where the camera was pointed. (Liveview complicates the sensor, and may require real-estate that has competing uses; but it's now included in the top-line professional bodies as well as others, so apparently with current tech the tradeoffs aren't too dire. Video has the same requirements, which may be what has driven the change.)

Second, the brightness (lack thereof) of the LCD is sometimes a problem in direct sun. One solution to this is the "EVF", an electronic viewfinder that you look into through an eyepiece, thus excluding the sun.

DSLRs started by putting digital sensors in the back of film bodies (all the early Kodak models, and the Nikon D1 and D100 and the Fuji S1 and S2), so the existing viewfinder system remained by default, as well as for good reasons.

The frame rate of liveview is such that it sometimes causes additional delay from what you see to what you capture. This is a problem for fast action or critical users.

There are advantages to liveview as well -- you can see a lot better in a dark room with the camera helping you, for example. You get 100% viewfinder coverage, which is only available in the top professional bodies (even the Nikon D700 doesn't have 100% coverage, only the D3 series). Other people seem to care about 100% coverage more than I do, but getting it free in liveview mode is kinda nice. The mirror and pentaprism and related mechanisms are expensive to manufacture and maintain. They require very precise alignment. The mirror flopping around causes some camera shake, limiting picture-taking under some conditions.

There's another very nasty dependency -- DSLRs use very sophisticated phase-detection autofocus sensors (they are faster, and they tell the camera which way focus is wrong which makes things even faster). Those sensors live on the bottom of the body, and the light reaches them via semi-silvered spots in the primary mirror plus a secondary mirror. If you remove the moving mirror from the equation, you lose the ability to use special auto-focus sensors looking through the lens. The Micro 4/3s cameras, and P&S cameras, use contrast-based AF software getting its data off the main sensor. This is cheap, and works well enough, but is much slower, and especially bad at things like tracking a moving object (which DSLRs do amazingly well).

Some people used to DSLRs sneer at composing on a screen on the back of the camera, but that's just Luddism (others have specific valid issues relevant to their photography; it's not all just Luddism). Lots of cameras still in use have different viewfinder mechanisms, including some that are just a screen (ground glass) on the back of the camera (and one so dim you need to put a black cloth over you and the camera to be able to see the image at all).

#70 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Eric@64: Mostly, I tend to immediately spot problems, sadly. I'm trying to concentrate on recognizing what DOES work, because that is in fact more important. If there's nothing especially good, then mere lack of problems isn't enough!

#71 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Craig@59: my highschool had one of those, that I used a tiny bit. Later I bought one of a pair of Yashicamat 124Gs that the other local wedding photographer (not "other" than me; I grew up in a small town, and there was "the" wedding photographer, and then another guy started up so he was the "other" wedding photographer) was selling to get Hasselblads. The extra negative area was definitely useful, especially with 1970s and 1980s films.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Earl, #61: Seconded!

Steve, #65: Oh yeah, the taking-pictures-on-a-sunny-day problem. Fortunately, my camera is a better photographer than I am; I've learned how to take a good guess about where the image is and let it do the rest. Does anyone know if there's a removable polarizing screen available for digicams?

Tim, #67: I'm also getting rather good at anticipating when to push the button to get the shot I want. It's a different set of reflexes, and in this case I think not being used to film cameras is actually helpful.

#74 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:07 PM:

One of my requirements when I bought a digital camera was that it have a viewfinder; I just couldn't imagine holding a camera still enough to compose solely with an LCD display. Or maybe it's just that I'm unwilling to change my ways.

#75 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:10 PM:

My DSLR has an adjustment (manual) on the viewfinder which means my middleaged eyes vision can use the adjusted view, as opposed to having to sometimes hold a non-DSLR non-viewfinder digicam out at arms'length...
I do do lens changing on the DSLR, also.... and shoot in RAW format, and use the manual focus when trying for some particularly finicky focusing on what -I- want to focus on.... there is a manual focus on a Kodak non-DSLR that is almost impossible to use, because it's as bad as the rules of Fizbin to get to.... do this, then that, then something else, and have to remembmer which of the totally inane incomprehensible etc. sequences of actions, will get one to the manual focus option.... it's worse than infuriating.

#76 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Keith @63 --

Extremely -- 10 kUSD+ -- high end digital camera systems have electronic viewfinders that almost don't suck.

Moderately priced EVIL ("electronic viewfinder in line") cameras, such as the various micro-four-thirds cameras now gaining popularity, are usable within their limitations.

Optical viewfinders provide actual resolution views; allow for focusing aids that make use of the laws of physics (so no power, and effectively instant response); and which do not have brightness of the subject mediated by the display tech.

For most things and relatively static subjects in relatively good light, EVIL works fine. For bad light, manual focus lenses, rapid motion, or sharp illumination transitions, optical view finders remain preferable.

Not to mention, not affecting battery life; I'd be embarrassed to recount the number of shots I've missed because I hadn't noticed I hadn't turned the camera on because the view through the viewfinder was doing just fine.

#77 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:22 PM:

I prefer composing with a viewfinder, even if it's not a "real" one like in an SLR. Using the back screen to compose -is- useful when you're trying to get the shot by holding the camera in a position such that you can't actually get your head to the same place to look through the viewfinder (mostly when I'm trying for shots of animals in zoos while avoiding getting fencing/netting in the picture).

The time lag with my digital camera is annoying; that's why I want to move to a proper (digital) SLR sometime (oh, and the lag between pictures. Being able to take more pics faster would be great - not that I can't take 1,000 in a day at a zoo even now). However, if/when I get an SLR, I bet I'll also be wanting to get one of those little cameras I can just slip in my pocket and have with me most of the time - when I won't be carrying the SLR.

#78 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Graydon@76: "EVIL" = Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens

#79 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Graydon@76: For most things and relatively static subjects in relatively good light, EVIL works fine. For bad light, manual focus lenses, rapid motion, or sharp illumination transitions, optical view finders remain preferable.

Disagree on the "bad light" case. One of the big wins with EVF is that you can see much more clearly in bad light with a bit of amplification. (And pretty much agree on the others.)

#80 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Linkmeister@74: If the P&S has a normal neck-strap, try holding it like this: Grasp the sides of the camera in your hands. Pull your elbows in to your stomach. Push out on the camera until the strap is tight. You have now created a remarkably stable structure of triangular rods and some tension members. In my testing I can hand-hold this way to considerably lower shutter speeds than I can with the camera pulled up to my face (and I've practiced the "to my face" thing for 40 years, and still use it with my D700).

Not to say that many people don't hold digital P&S sloppily and probably shake them a lot. But it's not inevitable just because they're "out at arm's length" or something.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 03:03 PM:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
- Richard Feynman about Challenger

#82 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 03:07 PM:

Another trick to holding a camera still is to tie a strong piece of string (long enough to go from your head to the ground) to a 1/4-20 bolt. Screw the bolt into your tripod socket on the camera, and then tie a large-ish washer to the other end of the string. Drop the washer on the ground, step on it, and pull the camera up until it's taut.

#83 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 03:26 PM:

One good reason for the view on a digital SLR: immediate feedback on whether the view is the correct one, before you depress the shutter. This is immensely useful when you have attached a small rigid endoscope to your lens and are attempting to photograph the retina of a mouse. Without "liveview", it can take 600 shots to get 6 decent photos; with liveview, your return is nearly 1:1.

Just for those of you who attach endoscopes to your digital SLRs.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 03:29 PM:

Ah, the smell of D-70 in the morning (and the afternoon, and the evening, and when drifting off to sleep; because it soaked into the skin of your fingers and lingered; as the cologne of one's beloved does, the faintest whiff enough to bring them back to mind).

My first step-father had a darkroom. It was converted to a bedroom when we moved in with him. Slide shows and cameras (he was a Canon user), expeditions he took with a Navy buddy collecting evidence for a lawsuit with the city about ham-antennae.

I knew my father was a photographer. Cameras were in the backgrouhd of my mind all my life.

135: Ansel Adams hated it. It let anyone just shoot a huge number of images; no time, thought or understanding required; just shoot enough and one of them will be decent.

And it was a revolution. It took awhile, but it made photography accessible. One need not spend time pondering the needs of the film, and the quirks of the lens; the falloff from the extention of the bellows. No need to learn to see, as through a glass darkly; upside-down and backwards, the faint image of the view. The corners were always going to be as sharp as the lens could render them; no worries that the boards weren't straight.

More, the wealth of opportunity it gave. Leica, Kodak, Minox, The Argus C3 (known, these days with affection as, "The Brick", which was my first "real camera"). Almost everyone I know who worked with B&W learned to see the light as a thing, and treat it as a quality, so as to be able to "know" what it would do on the film.

It, more than poetry, prose, music, or song, taught me to be consise (not the same as curt). It taught me story, and exposed me to the bones of narrative.

Adams was wrong. The secret of photography is to be able to find the image, and practice is where the craft of it lies. One must learn by doing (though it helps to have theory). Use makes master and the 135 made use readily available to pretty much everyone.

#85 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 04:07 PM:

65 F last night -- had some windows open. Now ice coming rattling down on all surfaces. I can has move to desert plz?

#86 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 04:07 PM:

I'm trying to figure out if the sentence below contains an error, or just a phrase I don't know. Can anyone explain it to me?

That every story is a body English of telling is a truism so obvious it hardly needs telling: maybe.

"body English?" One dictionary says this is a follow-through when throwing a ball, but it looks more like an HTML tag gone awry to me.

#87 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Graham Hughes: re 120/220 format. It's forgiving to print. It's tolerably forgiving to develop. Not all enlarger arrangements will handle it (the lensing is a pain).

That said, there are some other quirks. Lenses are neither cheap, nor as varied as with 135. DoF, is less, for given focal lengths (well, it's not actually, but the math is such that it might as well be).

I really like 120 (ok, let's be honest: I like film. If I had an 8x10, I'd like that too), but my Hassie is something of a hassle. Not as easy to use as 135 (in terms of loading/unloading/developing), and the metering is all done by experience, or with an independent meter.

The image is flipped R/L, and usually composed on a ground glass. A twin-lens (like the Rollei) is, largely, limited to the lens that came with the body. It's bulky, and gets attention.

One has to learn to think square, or plan to crop.

Stuart @ 14: I've made an inquiry with someone I know who has done such things. (edit, she was very quick in response. She used Blurb. She tells me she was quite happy with the detail in the final books)

mcz @ 41: You should see me in the field. All sorts of contortions to get the image I want. All done with an almost complete lack of care about where I am (I make a point to very carefully note my general surroundings, and if there is the slightest worry about footing, I make sure to remove my eye from the viewfinder before moving my body. I don't want to do what more than one person has done, and end up dead trying to get the shot).

I am told I am not allowed out of the house in the Ontarian Winter without snow pants, lest I die of hypothermia from crouching and flopping.

And now to a mid-term. There is much I want to address (and will be more before I get back to it), but the odds are I shan't be online again, to speak of, for a couple of days. I am off to Ottawa in the morning, and have plans for the evening.

#88 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:22 PM:

The problem with semi-improv poetry: Sometimes you forget things.

"What big teeth you have, Grandmother."
"The better to tear your heart out."

Thankfully, though this was inspired by my grandmother-in-law, 1) she recognizes who we are, even if she can't remember my son's name; 2) her failing mind is definitely the result of her failing body, and "she's had a good innings" (she's 93); and 3) they've hired a night nurse, who just happens to be my sister-in-law and who is trained in elder care, so my MIL is getting good sleep now. So— I was inspired by the worst-case scenario, and we are nowhere in that ballpark. She's loved and cared for and if we're slipping past her the fact that she's getting professional care, so much the better.

———

On to photography. I'm definitely a digital type because the financial barriers to good photography were too high with film. I'm also a Photoshop expert (not ACE, but if I thought I needed it I could study up for it in less than a month.)

I work for a photography studio, actually, that specializes in high school photography. That's where I got a lot of my PS skills (until I had Gareth, I was their go-to person for all the tricky stuff, and I'm just grateful that they found somebody really good to replace me.) Many things you can do in PS are similar to the photo-enhancement you can do in a darkroom, and I highly encourage you to play with the help of someone who knows what they're doing. Scott Kelby's online tips, if you can't get someone in person.

Having said all of this, the photographer's goal should be to use PS as little as humanly possible. I know how to fix slightly out-of-focus photos. I can fix under-exposed photos. I can even, God help us, do something about that picture that you shot too damned close and cut off their feet/shoulder/hand. But I shouldn't have to. All the time spent on PS is costing money. All the time behind the lens is making money.

This is why, if I ever write a Photoshop book, there is going to be a chapter entitled "Beat the Photographer."

David Dyer-Bennet, we are encouraged to use the viewfinder for one reason— it saves power. When you might have to go to battery backup for a dance, this is no small consideration.

As for posing, a couple more things: Long sleeves look better, and pop your elbows out just slightly. Don't have your shoulders square to the camera. Put your weight on your back leg. And— this is interesting— ladies' heads always tilt towards the light, but gentlemen tilt their heads towards the back shoulder.

#89 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:29 PM:

DDB@14:

There was also a smaller roll film, I think about 2" wide, called 127. Someone in my elementary-school class had a camera that took it.

I have a couple of 620 and 120 cameras, including a box camera I used to use at camp, but haven't tried respooling. There was an even wider roll film, I think 3" or so, called 116, with an alternate roller called 616. I have a box Brownie that takes 616, but I haven't gotten film for it. There are one or two guys on the Web who make film for it, by cutting down and taping together lengths of sheet film. Dad has an old tank that will develop 116/616, but I haven't plunked down the $20 or so for one roll, for what will probably be a light-leaking toy.

* * *

I used to develop & print film with my Dad. My grandparents had a darkroom in their basement, with a sink. When upstairs, we could communicate with whoever was in the darkroom by bending down and shouting into the hot-air grille in the middle of the living room baseboard - the furnace duct ran right through the darkroom.

After my grandparents sold that house in 1978, we used my sister's room as a darkroom, which involved taping a big sheet of black plastic to the window. That worked through high school, but starting in 1983, we have had a computer in that room, which is more fuss to clear away than Mom's miscellaneous papers.

Sometimes, if I was feeling like it, I'd set up in the kitchen, without covering the window. Use long exposures, so I can develop it fast, before the light from the window starts to grey out the paper. If I got it into the stop bath within a minute, I was generally safe.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Mary Dell 86: The phrase 'body English' is also used as a metaphor for what another writer might call slight-of-hand (again as a metaphor): using tricks to make something work.

'English', by itself, is a term I'm familiar with from pool (no, I don't play that game). You "put English" on the cue ball to make it strike the other balls in a certain way. In other words, you strike slightly to one side of center to give the ball a certain amount of spin (another word used for using language tricks to make something work better).

'Body English', literally, is waving your body around after the ball has left your hand or your cue has already struck. In other words, when it's too late. It's an ironic term IMU.

So the writer of your sentence is trying to say that storytelling involves a certain amount of handwaving. Or something. It's not very clear, at least to me.

#91 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Hypothetical open-threadiness -

What does it say about current TV programming that I find myself anticipating Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl with delerious excitement?

possible answers -

a.) yeah, that is some craptacular televisual programming. Thanks, Networks!

or

b.) PUPPIES!!!!!

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:59 PM:

nerdycellist @ 91... Well, the Other Bowl bores the skull out of me, so maybe it's the same for you.

#93 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 05:59 PM:

I'm a terrible photographer- perhaps I could learn the skills of seeing, but I don't have them now.

Stefan@66: A young/small opossum, maybe? the tail doesn't look right based on this:

http://www.richwooders.com/appalachian/wildlife/opossum.htm

but the feet, in one of those pictures, look plausible.

... I'm going to give this to an expert. Wade Schuman, of the delightful but difficult-to-describe band Hazmat Modine, includes pictures of "mystery mammals" in his emails, and turnabout may be fair play.

What part of the country do you live in?

#94 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:00 PM:

national public rhetoric gave almost a half hour to Salinger; to Zinn, two minutes, if that much, emphasis on the million copies of his history of the U.S. sold.

Says it all about the media and politics, one might think.

Of course, I've never been impressed with Salinger, from the time I was an adolescent and supposed to go all gaga about him. Feh.

Love, C.

#95 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:03 PM:

Otoh, meeting our students for the first time today, they impressed the h*ll outta me. For starters, among them, on average, they speak about 2.86 languages. Or, if you factor in Mandarin with the now outnumbered Cantonese speakers, about 3.6.

Also they've never heard national public rhetoric, as no one under 40 listens to the radio anyway. Further they've never heard of Salinger either.

#96 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Thanks to everyone who answered my question about DSLRs. I figured there had to be reasons, but I couldn't figure out what they were.

#97 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Oh my, I can smell the chemicals even now. And I miss it.

I started talking pictures wth my dad's Nikon F. All manual, 50mm lens, and a broken light meter. No hot shoe, either. Then I got my own F10 with a good light meter, a hot shoe, and a 28-80 lens. Then I got a Canon Elan with a 35-80 and all sorts of auto modes....then the Canon Digital Rebel body that I could use with my other Canon lenses. I have to say, some of my favorite pictures were taken with that battered old F, during my 1st college photo course. (A lot of the photos I sell on Etsy are from those old Nikons.)

I had jobs working in darkrooms from college till about 5 years after. Since then, though, getting darkroom access has been very, very hard. It was the lack of access that lead me to buying the digital. And I love many aspects of the digital. But I want to get in there and burn and dodge and watch a print rise up like a ghost from the yellow (under the safelight) paper.

For a while I had a whole mess of darkroom equipment to build my own, but I am an apartment dweller with no place to put it. After storing it for years, I sold it this fall to a couple with a highschool daughter who has started photography. A darkroom was to be her Christmas present. I hope it works out well. They said that she was a kid who didn't do well with school, but a photo class she'd taken had really gotten her to connect. I like to think that she may have found a place to shine.

Now that I've taken the plunge in regards to selling my work on Etsy, I'm really considering ponying up and paying the (somewhat ghastly) membership fees to a local darkroom (the ghastly fees don't even include the cost of chemicals or paper). I realize the need to send my digital photos off to someone else to print when I want to sell them, but the BW film stuff...it just feels wrong to let someone else touch it.

I hope no one minds if I link to my Etsy store, I'm always up for feedback on my images (or at my blog, which is linked under my name): Irving Place Photography

And on other topics...B. Durbin and Carrie S.'s poems both gave me shivers. Bravo!

#98 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:49 PM:

#93: I live in the Portland OR area.

It's definitely not an opossum.

Someone suggested a woodchuck. Maybe, but it doesn't have the same roly-poly ground-beaver look a groundhog has. But dead wet creatures can look very different than their fluffy live selves.

I added a better shot of the creature's head.

#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:57 PM:

Oh, forgot to mention this earlier. A site I found really motivating and educational for learning to improve my shots (and giving me a LOT of examples, WITH commentary attached of varying quality) was ,A HREF="http://www.dpchallenge.com/">DPChallenge. They run several 'challenges' a week, and invite all members to upload entries, which all members can then 'vote' and comment on. I never scored any higher than 5.5 on a 10-point scale, but I didn't really deserve to, either. :-> There's a lot of people there who, if they don't professionally shoot stock, should.

Usefully, you can search by, say, what camera people used to take their photo, and see what other people are doing with your hardware. When I was actively shooting for DPChallenge, I found it made me look at the world differently -- I was always looking with the current challenge topic in mind, which got me to shoot more, and shoot differently than I otherwise would.

#100 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 06:59 PM:

In re my #99, WOW I stunk that up. The first link should look like this. Typos and a faulty right shift key on my laptop, alas.

#101 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 07:07 PM:

(I'd just like to say)

I have exposed
the rolls
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for something

Forgive me
they were calling
so colorful
and so expired

#102 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Back at the beginning of my Army stint (1972-75), I was trained as a Photographic Laboratory Technician at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Besides the darkroom instruction, there was also some training on using a camera.

The Camera of Availability for us back then was... yes, really... a Speed Graphic*. That big ol' hunk of camera you see news photographers using in old movies from the 30's and 40's.

Big, and heavy, and awkward. But the 4x5 film sheets could catch awesome detail in a shot.

Also, if you carried it around a lot: great biceps.

Towards the end of training, we were able to use some SLR 35mm cameras for a couple of days.

Most of the training was for darkroom techniques. Doing the B&W stuff could be fun, but the color developing was more complex and I didn't get much satisfaction out of it.

After training, I was sent to another Army base, where I filled a slot for that MOS in a Signal company's TO. But there wasn't any actual job for a darkroom tech with that company, so my time there was spent washing trucks and mowing lawns.

(Rest of the long story short: Being assigned to that company turned out to be one of the most hellish experiences I've ever gone thru. If I'd been offered a choice between staying in that company and going to Vietnam, I'd have started packing. I eventually managed to transfer to a Transportation company on the same base after a few months, where I was glad to work as a company clerk for the rest of my enlistment.)

(Sad side-effect: Being in that signal company was so traumatic that it left me with anxiety attacks at the idea of handling a camera or working in a darkroom again, for years. I didn't start shooting pictures again, except for a handful, until our friend Anne bought me an almost-top-of-the-line digital camera in 2003; I've probably done a few thousand since then.)

(Even sadder side-effect of that side-effect: I have almost no pictures of our son Chris as he was growing up.)


*the notes on the linked Flickr image give more detail on how the Speed Grahic was operated, and also an anecdote about how the Hindenburg Disaster was captured on a Speed Graphic by one very practiced photographer

#103 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 07:19 PM:

Re 120/220 -- There are _many_ different shapes of camera that use 120/220, though finding 220 film is getting harder and harder. (it's the same stuff, 2x as long, without the paper backing so it can't be used in some cameras that have a window on the back of the film for seeing the image number)

I've got a Mamiya m645, and lenses for it are pretty cheap, nothing like Hassie prices. It also handles like a (big) slr, with a pentaprisim on top so looking through the viewfinder gives me a normal image. There are also waist level finders, and sometimes I run it with the prisim off so that I can act like it's a waist level finder.

A friend of mine brought an RZ67 with a polaroid back on the last photowalk and was handholding that monster. It's seriously huge, and not really for walking around with. Pentax made one that looked just like an ordinary slr, only bigger. There are some neat pano cameras that will take a 6x17cm image, and some that will spin and expose an entire roll of film over the course of 540 degrees.

#104 ::: Graham Hughes ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Terry @ 87: oh, granted, the dominant 6x6 camera is a very slow and deliberate thing to use. I only have a little (very negative) experience with Hassies but my old Bronica is the same sort of thing, and while I liked it well enough it was never my favorite. The fact that it sounded like the bolts to the gates of hell shooting closed whenever I took a photo with it probably didn't help that impression. That was reserved for my TLR (which takes some getting used to but is incredibly quiet and sweet) and my unbelievable Fujica 6x7 and 6x9. I can't recommend the latter to anyone else especially considering how hard it is to find lenses for them but I loves them, I does... although not so much with the bringing them from one place to another. (the camera with a normal lens is like five pounds of metal and glass)

#105 ::: Laura Gillian ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 08:26 PM:

@ Fragano Ledgister #10:

I'm delurking to thank you for the sonnet. "jell it as remembered light" gave me a little chill. What a beautiful image!

#106 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 08:57 PM:

I started taking pictures with a 110 Instamatic when my age was still in single digits. I switched back and forth between that and a 126 for a few years, and some of my best images are still from those cameras, despite their technical limitations. So I agree with Terry Karney about the most important part of photography being image selection.

When I got to high school, I signed up for a photography class as an art elective, and my dad gave me his old rangefinder Canon 35mm (he'd moved on to a more sophisticated SLR). No, I don't remember the model. It had a built-in light meter, but no other electronics. My dad had been an enthusiastic photographer for many years, and I think at one point he'd had a darkroom setup in our house -- my mother is still annoyed that he insisted on taking my newborn pictures in black and white, in case he wanted to print them himself. By the time I got interested, though, we no longer owned an enlarger. He did still have a sack full of the sort of flashbulbs you'd put on a Graflex flash tube. I'd been accustomed to the flash cubes and flash bars you could stick on an Instamatic. I say "sack," but it was actually a red canvas "No Parking" meter-cover that he'd swiped, somewhere in the misty past.

I got hooked. Developing wasn't particularly interesting, except for the challenge of doing something strictly by touch, but printing? Printing was heaven. Changing the light exposure timing until it looked just the way you wanted it to, dodging and burning to correct for things you couldn't solve with shutter speed and aperture when you'd taken the frame, timing the image in the bath to get all of the detail without overdeveloping... I could mess around printing for HOURS. And did. I applied to be a "guildmaster" for photography at my school, which meant I got a key to the darkroom and could use it any time I wanted, in exchange for agreeing to be present at certain times so the darkroom could be open without the teacher having to be there.

Our darkroom had running water and a goodly number of enlargers, and my dad donated his old glossy print dryer, but it wasn't without its problems. We hung the developed film in a series of lockers to dry, and we were downstairs from the ceramics studio, and there was clay dust EVERYWHERE. It was nearly impossible to get an unspeckled negative. Once I'd finished the offered classes, I got the negatives developed professionally, and just did my own printing, because the dust specks drove me insane.

One of the things I loved best was making hand-colored prints. I learned to make my exposure choices for a pale rather than a saturated effect -- almost the opposite of noir -- so that I could make the colors show effectively. I liked making the colors look realistic but faded. One of the best ones I did was of my oldest baby doll, whose painted features I'd nearly washed away over years of bathing her face.

One of the things I regret is never getting to use my dad's Mamiyaflex. I loved how it looked, and I was interested in using the large-format film, although the school enlargers had no plates for it and the one boy who was using one had to make his own enlarger plates out of manila folders. But my dad's Mamiyaflex was slightly damaged, and he judged it too expensive to repair, in the 1980s.

I haven't pursued photography as a hobby for years. But if I had ready access to a darkroom, it would be great fun to go in and just mess around.

#107 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:09 PM:

Stefan, my thought on that critter is a mole or a gopher. (Shrews are possible, but they're smaller.)

#108 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:26 PM:

abi, #39, I'm so sorry.

Stefan Jones, #66, it looks like a rat.

#109 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:32 PM:

#87 Terry

I agree composition is critical.... I've sometime held a position for several minutes waiting for the right expression, viewing angle on the subject, etc. -- but with lag time on digital cameras, can miss it easily. On the other hand, there is the video option for most of them.... some cameras do 720p (1280 X 720 resolution 30 frame per second video))

various -- I remember the smell of hypo...

#110 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:39 PM:

The Museume of Fine Arts had a room-sized camera that it shot giant sheets of Polaroid film with... one of the terminal at Logan had a series of photographs twice lifesize of silk-making drawings/paintings made with that camera.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:43 PM:

abi, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm also sorry I didn't notice on my first readthrough that you just said your grandmother died Monday.

#112 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:46 PM:

eric @ 101 ...
Forgive me
they were calling
so colorful
and so expired

Somehow I want to rephrase that as:

Forgive me
they were calling
so colorful
and Oh My!

#113 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 09:47 PM:

Happy open-threadiness:

The Boy has been fascinated with planets and outer-space since he was around 3 or 4. Today he turns 8, and his big birthday present is a 6" Dobsonian reflector telescope - Orion Starquest XT6. (Unfortunately it's not arrived in time for the day, but he's getting a picture of it with a card.) Barring major accidents, it should last him through adulthood if his interest continues.

#114 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:00 PM:

At 29, I may be the youngest one in this discussion. I had a cheap film camera growing up, and around fifth grade got really interested in photography. I started shooting a lot of film, and my parents, alarmed at the expense, discouraged me to the point that I didn't touch a camera again until college.

The college I attended had some of the early consumer-level digital cameras. I borrowed a Sony Mavica that took 3.5" floppy disks. With the proper resources and encouragement, I might have learned to do decent work with film. That first digital camera, though, was magic. The instant feedback meant that the learning process was so much faster, and even my eventual dSLR purchase was dirt cheap compared to what I'd be spending on film and developing.

I've never actually seen a darkroom and have no film experience whatsoever outside of dropping rolls off at the drugstore in middle school, but I think I'm doing all right. (That Flickr account gets used for all sorts of things, including quick shots for blogging and silly family shots, so the quality varies. The things I'm really proud of are like this. I'm sure there's experience that can only be gained with film and a darkroom, but there's also experience that can only be gained with, say, tintype work.

#115 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:28 PM:

caffeine, I'm 27; my fiancé is 29. So we're of an age with you -- coming of age and learning about photography just as digital cameras went through their quick change from essentially toy cameras, to something professionals could use.

#116 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:28 PM:

Rikibeth:

Printing was heaven. Changing the light exposure timing until it looked just the way you wanted it to, dodging and burning to correct for things you couldn't solve with shutter speed and aperture when you'd taken the frame, timing the image in the bath to get all of the detail without overdeveloping... I could mess around printing for HOURS.

This. This exactly. That was what was so great about my photography courses in college. They were rather lacking on anything to do with artificial lighting, but there was a strong focus on B&W darkroom, and I spent a lot of time in there. (Heck, I spent so much time there that I ended up getting a job as the lab assistant, and then a second job doing archival prints for the college art museum.)

I miss that unlimited access. When I do get access these days, I'm usually paying by the hour, and find myself watching the clock for more than just developing times.

"Underexpose, overdevelop" was my prof's motto.

#117 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Carolina @115, glad to know I'm not the only young'un!

I think being part of that transition of both the desktop computer and the digital camera, from curiosity to tool accessible to the common person, was part of what made both so special to me. Mucking around with chemicals doesn't sound the least bit fun, but Lightroom? Complete magic. It doesn't make up for bad in-camera work, of course, but you can tweak images so that they match the vision you had all along, or create something entirely new. I'd say the same about Photoshop, but my exposure to it's been limited by a bad case of tendonitis of the wrists. (One of the downsides of the transition to new technologies is the lack of sensible infrastructure to go with them, like properly supportive chairs and desks.)

In 30 years, when the next big photography breakthrough is out (holograms?), I wonder what young people will think of boring old digital.

#118 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:00 PM:

caffeine, #114: Wow, pretty! I looked at a few more shots in that set, and they're very nice. You might be interested in this set that I took at the Smithsonian Gems & Minerals Collection this past summer. I was quite pleased with the way some of them came out.

#119 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Clifton @ 113 -

Excellent choice for a first telescope. A 6" will show him a great selection of lunar, planetary and deep sky objects. Orion has a good selection of economical instruments that aren't junk.

#120 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:12 PM:

My father pushed us through practically every craft/hobby out there, so I had a B&W period. I can't for the life of me remember what camera I used, but I'm pretty sure it took 126 film. We developed it in the laundry room and made contact prints. My father had a Leica and shot huge numbers of slides when I was little and miles of 8mm when I was older. The film processing always punched some sort of code into the tail end of the latter so you always knew when the film was about to run out because the sprockets would make a different sound and the image would be shot full of holes. I took my father's Leica with me to Europe, where it stopped working somewhere around Prague; the guy at the photo shop in Vienna suggested pitching it, but I kept it and picked a disposable or something else cheap. It turned out all I had to do was mess with the lens the right way and it would have started working again. I later had a couple of low-end SLRs, one of which I still have though it hasn't been loaded in over a decade. Part of me wants to get a DSLR but the cost has always seemed daunting.

I've never really gotten good because the cost of processing always made me parsimonious.

#121 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Antivaxxer movement leader found to have acted unethically by the UK's General Medical Council, including unethical spinal taps of children

#122 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:25 PM:

caffeine @ 114 : I am somewhat younger (23) than you; I trained in photography just prior to the absolute explosion of cheap, decent digital cameras - the program in high school that I learned through still issued decades-old manual bodies to new students (they loaned them out, and the teacher made the students swear fearsome oaths to not break them).

#123 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:26 PM:

I wonder if anyone else feels as I do about B & W versus color, which is that (generally speaking, and there are exceptions) color is wonderful for landscapes and animals, but cityscapes and human faces, while stunning in color, can also be beautifully rendered, sometimes more so, in B & W. I don't want to sound too dogmatic here, since this is a matter of taste -- but some of my favorite photos of people I love seem more powerful and "true" in B & W.

I owned a Kodak Brownie, as a child. My father loved taking family photos; he even had a home darkroom, for a while, though I think the chemicals made my mother nervous. He was one of the first to buy a Polaroid camera, and loved the technology, though even he agreed that the photos looked like crap. I have several boxes of black and white (and various shades of brown) family photos. The oldest, which are more than 100 years old, are in excellent condition. My favorites are the ones of my parents in their twenties. The photos were taken in the late 30s and early 40s, and are as crisp and clean as if they had been taken today. I have several of my father in the army, in the South Pacific, taken around 1941. They were mailed to my mother, and of course, she kept them. They passed to me when she died.

#124 ::: Keith Kissel ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:36 PM:

I'm the photographer fiancé that Caroline mentions @53

She already said a lot of what I think here, but I think it's worth elaborating a tiny bit. What she really didn't mention is how much fulfillment I get out of the digital tools. It may seem strange to an older generation, but I actually do get the same visceral enjoyment out of working my images digitally that everyone here describes getting from the darkroom. Now, I know that feeling well; I like working in the darkroom, but at the end of the day, I can make my images faster and better on a screen than I can with chemistry. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. The tools don't really matter as long as they let you make the image you want.

The part of all this that is so absorbing is the creation of the image. I think one of the advantages to a darkroom method is that it forces you to take time and consider your choices. if you have to go through the whole process of exposing, developing and fixing an image every time you want a third-stop of exposure correction, you had better carefully consider every choice you make. Once you become accustomed to the tools, though, this starts to feel like a time waster.

I love post-processing, and can spend a ridiculous amount of time doing it, but as much as possible, I try to avoid it. Shooting things right in the first place, capturing a moment, is far more important to making an image than the time we spend in the darkroom.

#125 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2010, 11:49 PM:

Lee, I love that gorgeous pink specimen that's your set cover. How on earth did you get enough room to even use a camera in there? The one time we went it was so crowded it was hard to even move. I keep meaning to go back, but now that we're in Manassas it's a pain in the rear to go into the city on a weekday (which would theoretically be less crowded).

Ben @122, I know there are a lot of people in my generation who truly straddled that gap and studied (or study) both. I suppose the slight implication upthread that people who have never used film are somehow incomplete as artists/photographers got my hackles up a bit.

#126 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:17 AM:

caffeine: I'm 32, so I guess I'm your generation.

FWIW, a color image can be converted to B&W in digital, but unless you've done some strange things with the lighting, you'll need to tweak the levels to look like a true B&W shot. I'm all for experimenting with that sort of thing, and in fact I'm fond of semi-color images, where you mask out part of the image and have little pops of color. Even desaturated color. I don't often get the chance to do that because most current high school seniors aren't interested in anything other than bright flash right now. It's rare we get a B&W order when the student is picking the images.

Anyway. Right now my photostream is primarily made up of Gareth photos, but I have a few that are a bit more artistic. So you can poke around a bit and understand— these are all my point-and-shoot camera. I haven't gotten an SLR yet.

For anyone wondering how to take more interesting pictures, I suggest you change your viewpoint, literally. Get down on your knee (or your belly) for low shots looking up. Try shooting straight down. Get too close. You may find that you're taking shots you didn't know you could take. Some of my best shots are accidental. :)

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:36 AM:

caffeine, #125: I was there on a Saturday, but it was midsummer, and maybe the heat kept some people away; it was busy, but not jammed except right around the Hope Diamond. I didn't have any trouble getting enough space to take my shots. And boy, did I learn a lot about shooting thru glass that day! There were a lot of deleted shots where all you could see was the reflection of my flash. :-) You have to stand off to one side a bit, so that the reflection doesn't come straight back at you.

I suspect that a lot of the "you're not a REAL photographer if you haven't worked with film in your own darkroom" attitude is a variation on a theme that goes back to "you're not a REAL farmer if you haven't pulled that plow with your own back instead of using an ox".

#128 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:59 AM:

126 cartridge pinhole camera

My daughter and I made one; the processing labs around here can't make prints from them but they can develop the negatives. The results were somewehat better than Niépce's. The hardest part is getting the film registered properly so you don't have a bar running through the middle of your image.

#129 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:11 AM:

You're not a REAL hunter if you haven't poked a mastodon with a fire-hardened, sharpened stick instead of using one of those fancy schmancy sticks with sharp rocks tied on the end. Everyone knows that using sharp rocks to hunt food offends the sky.

#130 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:55 AM:

Carrie S. @45:
That one made me cry too.

It was my mother who pointed out that so many of these fairy tales start out by killing off the heroine's mother. We came to the conclusion that it was because one of the subtexts of the story is that "none of these terrible things would have happened if her mother were around". (My maternal grandmother died when my mother was 24.)

Xopher, Marilee:
Thank you. She was 94, so she had a good innings, and she used the time well. Which just makes us miss her all the more.

#131 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:03 AM:

I've amended the entry; I apologize to anyone I offended or put off.

#132 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 06:05 AM:

Digital v film?

I don't think it means you're not a "real" photographer or not to have bypassed film.

I means you are a *differently experienced* one

for me,the art is also bound up in the ability to see the image progress from blank sheet through the stages until the image is fully realized.

Part of it may also be the lack of precision of the analog process of emulsion-related film and paper.

Or it may be the more akin to the differences in the internal process of composition/contemplation that Us Olde Folkes remember from shotting negative v. slides.

they are *not* the same

#133 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 06:06 AM:

abi @ 130... Belatedly, my condolences.

#135 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Laura Gillian #105: Thank you.

#136 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 08:40 AM:

I'm 50 now; I got my first camera at age 7 or so. I still have both prints and some of the negatives from then. It was a Kodak® Instamatic 126 cartridge, with two shutter sppeds and no other adjustments. I used it until high-school. My father had a 127 roll film camera that was a bit higher-end.
In high-school I did yearbook photography and developed and printed my own B&W, both at school and at home. My first paying job was in a camera store. Mostly I handled photofinishing bags; I sorted negatives for wedding photos; sometimes we sold a camera; and I did lots and lots of Polaroid passport photos. Every now and then someone needed an odd size passport photo, I developed and printed a few of those. I wound up owning things like a Russian rangefinder with great optics and bad mechanics and several strange 1970's Polaroid cameras.
My first after-university job gave me enough money to buy a used Spotmatic™ -- I still have it, although it's the old one with the unavailable battery, and none of the substitutes have worked well for me. I use a hand-held light meter. I did run a couple of rolls through it last year. I own a few lenses, one of which frequently appears on top 10 lists - the Tamron 105 f2.5 macro. For years it was my all-round lens.
We're now on our second digital p&s, which has a 2:3 aspect ratio option at 9Mpixels. It does the job for snapshots. When I shopped for a digital camera, shutter lag was something I tested.
An early experience was using a borrowed digital camera to try to take some shots of a moving bike. Frustrating - although missing the shot in film is more so.

One thing I notice is that many people aren't critical of their own photos. One of the guys at work is a serious semi-pro sports photographer; he does skateboard photos and so on. He entered a content and sent the "vote for me" link to a bunch of us. Some of the other entries were out-of-focus - in a sports photo contest - and they weren't artistically out-of-focus, they were just not quite focused.

I've shot two weddings seriously myself, one on film and one digitally. I bought three rolls of VPS 136-36 (VeriColor Professional type S) and got maybe a dozen reasonable shots out of 108 exposures. With the digital camera, the memory card holds about a thousand shots, I ran through maybe 250 and deleted most of them, but got a couple of dozen really good pictures.

I want a DSLR, but I don't want it enough to spend the bucks right now.

#137 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 08:41 AM:

cd @ #134--

from the article:

The shirt has been worn by actor Rainn Wilson of "The Office" and Allan Hyde of "True Blood." It was also worn by the U.S. Marine's Bravo Company 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.

Grammar and syntax--what happens when they fail.

So, did the Marines stuff themselves into a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL, or does the fabric just have a lot of stretch?

#138 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 08:43 AM:

abi @#130: Wow. I don't know what to say except that I'm flattered--I consider myself a middling poet at best, and that's one of the few things I've ever done that I consider worthy of public consumption. So I'm glad it worked for you. Thanks.

#139 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 09:17 AM:

Lee @127, sounds like a thousand variations over a thousand years of "kids these days." Ties neatly back into the last open thread's quote.

Abi, I think this may be a case, as I know has happened here recently, of overreacting to something said here because of baggage from the Rest Of The Internet. You certainly didn't offend.

#140 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 09:25 AM:

Abi: I'm sorry about your loss.

D Bubin: That was really good--it put me back in a couple of situations with relatives and friends whose minds had fallen apart alongside their bodies. Damn.

Carrie and Fragano: Very nice poems. Each rather disturbing, though in different directions.

Right now, I find I don't have much poetry in my heart. I suspect I'd be a happier person if I ignored the news, these days. (A happier but more foolish man, I woke the prior morn.)

#141 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Open threadiness: This post talks about a sad contradiction between Obama's rhetoric and actions, this time on lobbyist-friendliness. This recalls one of my first posts here. Sigh.

#142 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 09:56 AM:

Late to this discussion as usual. I have a digital point-and-shoot camera: annoyingly, in the last roll of film from my 35mm point-and-shoot it began to look like I'd worked out how to get some good shots, so I've had to learn it all over again. It's true (as caffeine said) that the trial-and-error process is much quicker with digital. But only one or two photos I've ever taken is in a class with the standard on show in the flickr sets here.

(I'm not at all bothered by this. I like taking photographs; one day I mean to start doing it a bit more seriously; but I have other things I like doing at the moment and they keep me busy.)

One thing I do find: I like reportage much more than landscape and details; but taking photos of strangers and even friends and family feels like invading their privacy too much. Also, if I'm in a situation where I am enjoying myself, I find I am reluctant to take photos. I think I'm afraid of ending up relating to it through a camera lens instead of enjoying myself in an unmediated way.

This isn't meant as a criticism of people who do take photographs at social events, obviously. It is mainly my own neurosis. I have enough of a tendency to withdraw from direct experience as it is.

Also, I know there are strategies around this. As I say, if I ever get on to taking photography at all seriously I will put some of them into practice.

#143 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 10:06 AM:

Diatyma@62
Any tips on how to make things and see the whole rather than every tiny flaw? I don't do it with other people's work, but I can take only so much of my own before perfectionism kicks in.

Not something I do with photography, but it can be the same with poetry (this thread's other theme, evidently). I am beginning to wonder if one answer is the opposite of the "throw away the bad stuff" advice: let other people see it. You mentioned yourself that you are more willing to see the virtues in other people's work: maybe let them see the virtues in yours. You might still be unhappy with it, but you will have seen it from a wider perspective.

Of course, for this it is presumably necessary to have the opinion of someone you know you can trust to tell the truth and yet be sympathetic. Family and friends who will tell you it's great regardless are not a lot of help; and I guess it helps if you can find someone whose opinion will be halfway informed. And it occurs to me that any reduction in insecurity that comes out of this process may have nothing to do with the making or their views on it, but just the fact of having such a person to call on in the first place. Or maybe the making is good because it strengthens that relationship.

I don't know if that makes sense. It isn't aimed at Diatryma specifically, in any case. I've only just started showing my poetry to one or two friends whose views I trust, and the fascinating thing is how much I learn about the poems (and about myself). And this isn't because the poems are especially good. I carry on making my own decisions about their quality, but I'm beginning to realise the hidden virtues of even the less good stuff.

#144 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 10:20 AM:

abi, you didn't offend me, and I think I can safely say you didn't offend Keith either. I read it as talking about your own experience with photography, not passing judgment on anyone else's. I think it's neat to talk about and explore the differences and similarities in people's experience with making images with film and with digital tools.

Other places I have seen people argue that photographers who shoot digital aren't "real" photographers, and people may be hearing and reacting to those echoes, but I didn't read you as saying that. I just read your own memories and experiences.

Furthermore, I just saw your comment about your grandmother. I'm so sorry for your loss.

My grandmother has encroaching dementia: she can't remember the years she lived in my hometown, during my childhood, at all. She still knows who all the family are, who she is, where she is, when she is -- but parts of her past are gone. I'm dreading what may happen to her memory in the future.

#145 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 10:42 AM:

Earl Cooley 129

I was sure that link was going to go here:

http://dresdencodak.com/2009/09/22/caveman-science-fiction/

#146 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 10:43 AM:

re 127: I had a round of the glass/flash thing this summer trying to shoot pictures of a room through a glass door. After a run of less than successful shots and moving on to something else, it suddenly occurred to me that the secret was to hold the lens directly against the glass. I doubt they'll let you use that trick in the Smithsonian, though.

#147 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Last comment, I am for the road.

DDB: re in the field checking, one of the things I stress to my students is that can't use the camera back for anything but composition. The resolution of the highest quality screens is still orders of magnitude less than the image actually has information, and that's for .jpg.

KeithS: Part of it is habit. Part of it is that the LCD is a poor substitute for looking at something directly. If a camera has a viewfinder (even if it's just a window through the body. I'll use that. Oddly, that seems to mark me as special. I borrowed a camera at work, to take a photo of a dinner party, and someone commented, "Look at how he's holding it, he must be a photographer.

LCDs are late, have wierd artifacts, and the images drags and jumps. An SLR doesn't.

DDB: Liveview isn't (to the best of my knowledge) supported through the viewfinder, but through the camera back.

I don't like camera back/LCD composing, because of the lag issues, the drag issues, and the distractions of the outside world. I find the limits of the frame make composing easier. It's just anectdata, but this seems to be the case for more people than not; IME

#148 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Regarding viewfinder vs. LCD for composition, I've found that the live view LCD is more useful for rough composition, but the viewfinder is more useful for fine-tuning focus, particularly on a tripod.

#149 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:48 AM:

cd, #134: That's a nice boost for Mountain. They have some really terrific shirts -- I've got at least half a dozen in my wardrobe, because Pegasus carries them, which means I get to see all the new stock. They print on high-quality blanks, too.

#150 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:53 AM:

B. Durbin @126 said: Some of my best shots are accidental. :)

No joke. I should note that anything beyond a little bit of global contrast-correction, hue-shifting, or removing redeye is totally beyond me, when it comes to electronic photo-editing ... so it amazes my friends when I suddenly show up with shots like this (bird) or this (at my cousin's wedding). They look like I painted them, or spent hours in Photoshop, but nope -- in-camera effects. :->

The bird shot was gotten using my last camera, whose zoom was lacking, and holding our birder spotting-scope up to the lens in a frantic attempt to get some decent shot of a small bird halfway across our backyard, while standing inside our kitchen. The wedding shot is just what happens when it's dark and your camera can't cope. :->

My flickr account, since everyone else is sharing.

#151 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:01 PM:

Heh. I've got a few photos up at flickr as well.

#152 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:17 PM:

My flickr account, some film, some not.

#153 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:23 PM:

I'll join the party and link to my Flickr account.

#154 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Stefan@98:
Doggiesnack update. I got an email back from Wade:

"It looks like some sort of Vole...!

I can look it up in my field guide...but it's rather hard to see it's face and body structure...the white belly makes me think it might be a water Vole...
but I can't be sure...also it's pretty big for a vole!"

I will let him know that there's a better picture up.

#137: Perhaps they wore it serially, instead of in parallel?

#155 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Scott Roeder convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Doctor George Tiller.

It took the jury less than 40 minutes to convict him. And the judge did his part, precluding the jury from considering a lesser charge of manslaughter based on the defense's "justified killing" defense.

Bravo. Now let him rot in jail, for a very, VERY long time.

#156 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Sandy @ #154--I hope so, because while I've heard a lot from friends who are Marines, over the years, about the special closeness you find in the Corps, I don't think that was what they meant.

Also, while the Marines are often expected to make do with less, I really think they deserve to have one shirt per Marine.

#157 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 12:54 PM:

praisegod barebones @145, yep, that's a great link, but I'm just not cool enough to link to Dresden Codak on a regular basis. Besides, the comet strike ending the Clovis culture idea was pretty compelling.

#158 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:03 PM:

cd (134): ...Amazon sells The Mountain t-shirts? I'm doomed.

Since we're sharing: Photos from my Alaska trip last summer. I just have a cheap digital point-and-shoot, with too little zoom for good wildlife shots, but I got some good landscape pictures.

#159 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Bruce 155: Good. Does Kansas have LWOP as an option? I think terrorist murderers like Roeder should definitely get the maximum.

fidelio 156: Also, while the Marines are often expected to make do with less, I really think they deserve to have one shirt per Marine.

Deserve? Absolutely. But I have to say I'm enjoying the image of a whole bunch of shirtless Marines all squeezing together to get into one giant shirt.

Or doing anything else, to be frank. Mmm, shirtless Marines!

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:31 PM:

To answer my own question, according to this page, Kansas does have LWOP, but they also have a death penalty.

I hope he gets LWOP, the filthy terrorist scum.

#161 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:39 PM:

Terry@147: with a little configuration, my D200 and D700 give me 1:1 pixels (centered on the focus indicator used, too) with one button push, so I can check focus and sharpness quite easily on the LCD. I don't think most P&S make it this easy, but all the ones I've owned do let you zoom in enough to make useful judgments (IMHO) on sharpness.

Not fine color -- but I do that in post anyway, and I can catch gross weirdness. Not exposure from the image appearance (although with experience you can get quite a bit; in particular, any detail you can see on the LCD is present in the file). But I've got the option of blinking clipped areas, and overlaid histograms, which tell me a lot about exposure on the LCD but not directly by evaluating the thumbnail.

I seem to combine information from multiple sources pretty well when framing. I don't have to look through the camera, I can find it bare-eyed and then bring the camera up a lot of the time. And I'm not disturbed if the finder (using the broadest sense, to include LCDs, EVFs, reflex viewers, ground glass on the back of a view camera, wire frame sports finder on a Speed Graphic, whatever) view is sketchy or weird; when holding a camera at weird angles overhead or whatever and hence viewing the LCD from angles where I can just barely make out the edges of objects, that's okay too (and lets me frame accurately enough; I know what's really there by direct sight, and can then place the frame edges on the LCD). I'd still rather have a tilt/swivel LCD though ;-).

"Live view through the viewfinder" is not something current DSLRs have, but that's essentially what an EVF is and some cameras do have EVFs, including some of the EVILs.

#162 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Will there be a Fluorospherian get together at Boskone? (Feb 12-14 at the Westin Boston Waterfront)

#163 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:02 PM:

Jon@89: Yes, 127 is the narrower roll-film. That's what my first camera used (a Pixie 127, I believe from Sears). I think it's 1 5/8 inches wide; at least to the same extent that 120 is 2 1/4" wide (I forget now if those are the negative size or the film size). They also made some miniature serious cameras for that format, but mine wasn't one of them, it was a basic P&S, no exposure adjustment. It did have flash capability, though. Used AG-1B bulbs (the "b" being "blue" for daylight balance).

#164 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:10 PM:

B.Durbin@88: in-camera vs. post-processing is a debate that was resolved long ago -- in favor of post-processing, despite the position you express in your message :-). Ansel Adams describes the negative as the score for some music, and the print as the performance. If you don't "perform" your negatives (or digital files) well, you're not getting anywhere near the best photos you could. A good landscape shot of mine, in serious workprint form, will have 4-7 layers (mostly curves adjustment layers, mostly with layer masks, but also a few paint layers in different blending modes, and maybe other stuff I found suitable for that photo).

Of course in commercial work, there are severe time constraints. And starting with the best negative you can get is always best; ideally, Adams wasn't "fixing" the picture while printing, he was "improving" it.

#165 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:11 PM:

B.Durbin@88: in-camera vs. post-processing is a debate that was resolved long ago -- in favor of post-processing, despite the position you express in your message :-). Ansel Adams describes the negative as the score for some music, and the print as the performance. If you don't "perform" your negatives (or digital files) well, you're not getting anywhere near the best photos you could. A good landscape shot of mine, in serious workprint form, will have 4-7 layers (mostly curves adjustment layers, mostly with layer masks, but also a few paint layers in different blending modes, and maybe other stuff I found suitable for that photo).

Of course in commercial work, there are severe time constraints. And starting with the best negative you can get is always best; ideally, Adams wasn't "fixing" the picture while printing, he was "interpreting" it.

#166 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:18 PM:

Re: good, accidental photos -- I have a folder on my computer titled "Blurs", where interesting compositions get saved. One is here, a cool effect of snow with a slate wall in the background. Another favorite is this one of my daughter's gymnastics team marching into competition.

Comparing SLR cameras to digitals, I think overall I probably got better shots with my SLR, but between the portability and the nearly unlimited freedom to shoot pictures (and dare to make mistakes), I've been won over to my digital.

Storage is another issue. We have a couple of thousand slides that document some very important slices of our lives, and I need to figure out the best* way to get them digitized. In addition to making it easier to view them again, it would be nice to give both our kids a complete set of copies.

*cheapest, most efficient, and/or most convenient, preferably all three.

#167 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:35 PM:

w00t! We got Whatever'd! Many thanks to KeithS for sending an e-mail about it; the shirt hadn't been put up on our website yet, but now it has.

#168 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Abi: sympathies on your recent loss of your grandmother-in-law - and on the earlier loss of the real "her".

Open-threadiness: "Weather improves to allow evacuations of Machu Picchu tourists." I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional on the part of the weather.

#169 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Ginger @ 83

If I'd only known, I could have asked you when I needed pictures of rabbit retinas (or do you only do rodents?)

#170 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Debbie @ 166:

There are flatbed scanners that have trays for taking negatives and/or slides. This is the cheapest way I can think of, unless you go in for a really expensive scanner.

The convenient way is to hire someone else to do it. This is, however, not cheap.

There are no efficient ways that I know of.

abi @ 39:

My condolences on your loss. (And my apologies as well; I intended to post this much earlier, and, obviously, I didn't.)

#171 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Very much enjoying this image from Tim Walters. Also enjoying checking out all these Flickr streams! (And will check out the other sites when I'm not behind a firewall.) One of the other wonderful things about digital photography is the availability of others' work online to study and learn from.

#172 ::: Foible ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Nobody has suggested a Nutria for the mysterious critter in Portland yet? We're getting quite a population of them now, especially around wet areas.

#173 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 03:11 PM:

cd #134: Three Wolf Moon t-shirt declared "the offical t-shirt of New Hampshire economic development".

The best parody of that t-shirt I've seen features Sarah Palin (you may wish to take liquids-near-keyboard precautions before viewing).

By the way, I think it's high time that Narcissistic Personality Disorder had its own telethon and celebrity spokesperson.

#174 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 03:17 PM:

dcb @ 169: Oh, I do all kinds of retinas. I'm trying out the same system for photographing rabbit retinas too. Let me know if you need anything, and I'll see if I can get it.

#175 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 03:25 PM:

David D-B, "fixing" is what I refer to for sure. All of our photos go through a post-production process including but not limited to blemish removal, eye brightening, under-eye softening (to be fair, proper studio lighting will make anyone look as though they have bags under their eyes), vignettes, and of course color-corrections and saturation. We have our own printer so we can be very precise on those points.

Because we do those things for every photo, we have set up a process to do them very quickly. But invariably we get obnoxious requests that are due to photographer error— shooting too close for the cropping, offering the customer an out-of-focus image to chose from (and which they will want a poster of), under-exposed images which are so yellow that color is a bear, and so forth. I don't mind the weirder requests for special vignettes, or multi-photo compositing, or the really oddball ones (one mother asked us to tone down her son's vitilago so that it was not gone but not the first thing you noticed. Oddly enough, I just toned down the yellow in his natural skin tone and it worked beautifully.) Those things are a challenge; those things are fun and artistic.

IOW, I agree that your best photos should be treated to make them really shine. But you shoot so as to minimize the work you spend afterwards, because then you have more time to play.

#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 03:34 PM:

#172: I've seen nutria. So has my dog; she can spot one amidst a pond full of geese & ducks and immediately go into "want to kill!" mode.

But this would have to be a very small nutria about a mile from the nearest body of water.

Everything about the critter screamed "mole," except for its nose and its size.

#177 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Slide (and negative) digitizing: From 35mm, even a fancy flatbed scanner like the Epson V750 is somewhat marginal. Issues with negative flatness become important, too. However, depending on your quality standards (and in some areas I'm certifiably insane) a flatbed might do. A regular film scanner with slide feeder is good for piles of slides; negatives require more attention, and good film scanners are amazingly slow (but get about the best scan of the image, short of going to drum scans or something really extreme).

There are two cheap and easy ways. Well, neither totally cheap, nor totally easy, but somewhat better.

Easiest, not wonderfully cheap -- somewhere like scancafe.com, which charges you about a quarter per picture, and lets you reject half of them and not pay for them. However, the review and reject process is web-based and rather slow.

Or, if you've got a macro lens, a DSLR, and a light source, you can get a slide/film holder, and photograph them into digital form quite quickly. Many people have spoken well of the results. It doesn't, however, support digital ICE, which is totally wonderful for color negatives and some color slides (not some, esp. older, Kodachrome) for automatically and very accurately eliminating scratches, dust, hairs, and the like.

#178 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Lee 167: YOU made that t-shirt?!?!?! Cool! I definitely want some, but I have to get sizes first. I know several people who are going to LOVE them!

#179 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 04:37 PM:

DDB @78,79 --

Right you are on EVIL; whups.

Electronic image display acts as a view enhancement device in low light; it might be what you want. (I can easily see it being very useful.) If you want to be seeing the actual light level or wish to avoid being the guy with the glowy face/dead give-away while trying to take available light indoor social candid shots, perhaps not so much.

(I will admit to using optical viewfinders with polarized sunglasses on, but, well, that's what EV compensation on the camera is for. I don't consider my eyes expendable.)

#180 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Debbie @ 166
Even quite cheap flatbed scanners wth a tray for holding slides can do pretty good scans, if set on high resolution. Does take time, however (mine holds three slides).

Ginger: I was just looking for pictures showing normal and abnormal, back when I was finishing off the Wildpro volume "Rabbits and their Relatives: Health and Management". Sheila Crispin (veterinary ophthalmologist) let me use some of her pictures, which was very helpful - normal pigmented fundus and albino fundus. I also have images of cataract, aberrant conjunctival overgrowth and blepharitis, phacoclastic uveitis secondary to Encephalitozoon cuniculi, plasmalymphocytic keratitis, glaucoma and lipid keratopathy, but I could still use some more on keratitis and corneal ulceration, conjunctivitis, distichiasis, trichiasis, ectopic cilia, and prolapse of the glands of the third eyelid. Photocredit given and a link to your website/organisation if wanted, but no payment I''m afraid.

Critter-got-by-Stephan-Jones's-dog: I've tried researching it in the books on North American mammals available in my home library (Audubon Society Field Guide, Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals).

I was going for pocket gopher based on size and tail characteristics. Relative tail length (and lack of much if any hair) would also allow vole, but unless you have some very large voles... Well, some of the North American voles get to 18 cm long (about seven inches) - and some have a pale belly, so that's a possibility (tail characteristics - length and hair, or lack thereof, pretty much seem to limit the possibilities to voles and pocket gophers). It's obviously too small for a nutria. How long was it (I don't know how big your dog is)?

According to Walker's Mammals of the World (Sixth Edition), the Eastern pocket gophers (Geomys spp.) do have paler ventral fur, while the western species (Thomomys) don't.

#181 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Graydon@179: Yeah, there are certainly times when a bright 3" LCD on the back of the camera is intrusive. Not a problem with an EVF, where it's shrouded and sealed to your eye when in use (and is much smaller anyway). Although I haven't found the need to take my DSLRs off auto-review when photographing people in pretty dim conditions at parties; but these are mostly people I've been training for 20+ years to not mind me.

I haven't used an EVF camera or an EVIL (yet), just played briefly with them. The electronic viewfinders are getting better. I certainly wouldn't choose them for manual focus -- but I don't much like the screen in my D700 for manual focus either, and almost always use AF or at least focus confirmation rather than judging from the screen. Or live-view contrast-detect focus, for slow work on a tripod.

#182 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 05:06 PM:

Film vs. Digital: It annoys me how many people, on both sides, see it as a religious issue. It shouldn't be.

I self-identify as a fan of digital photography, but hope that my fervor stops short of religious (I save that for important things, like text editors).

I do understand / sympathize with people being annoyed when their process is being forcibly changed by materials being discontinued. I even understand, somewhat, people being annoyed at being forced out of their comfort zones (or before they're ready, at least). I understand people late in their careers (this applies, obviously, to professional photographers) being unhappy at having to tackle a huge paradigm shift.

But, as somebody who worked primarily with film for 31 years (dating from my first SLR; 38 years if we go back to the oldest negatives I still have), I have to say that digital is SO MUCH better in SO MANY different ways. I get better color, better resolution, a wider brightness range recorded in a single exposure, better light sensitivity, less money per shot, and less time and money dealing with the images after the shot. I can make bigger prints than I ever could from 35mm film, by a lot. I can switch from slow color to fast B&W really quickly whenever I want to. I can carry enough media to record thousands of pictures without destroying my back. I can quickly check how my pictures are coming out in the field. Every single one of these things is a GOOD thing.

The equipment is more expensive, that's bad (DSLR bodies run about $600 to $8000 today). It requires heavy computer support and expensive software, that's bad (though I already had the computers for it, myself). The shooting is free, and if you shoot enough, that more than makes up for the equipment cost. The cameras are big and heavy compared to most 35mm SLRs. The cameras require battery power to function (so did all my 35mm film cameras made after 1987; i.e. I was used to dealing with that constraint long ago).

DSLR digital isn't competitive in resolution and hence potential print size with the better film medium and large-format cameras (there is medium format and large format digital, however, which is...for an even more appalling price).

Then there are workflow issues. A big one, for me, and an even bigger one for people with children, is that I don't have to commit to several hours of work plus an hour of cleaning up to justify setting up the darkroom. (I'm not talking about a temporary darkroom, that's even more work; I'm just talking about getting out the trays, mixing chemistry, and washing and putting away afterwards plus drying the prints). I can sit down and work on a picture for 10 minutes if I have 10 minutes, and I don't have to wander off behind a locked door to do it either.

#183 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 05:09 PM:

This thread is really making me realize the importance of processing in producing decent shots; I can't seem to get the hang of it, however, without producing unnatural images that look processed. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good tutorial on basic digital processing?

(Despite all this I do have a few photos I'm proud of, since given a decent zoom any idiot can get a decent wildlife shot on occasion, like this one.)

#184 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 05:42 PM:

David @ 182: I can sit down and work on a picture for 10 minutes if I have 10 minutes, and I don't have to wander off behind a locked door to do it either.

This is a huge benefit to digital. When I was growing up, my dad did wedding and portrait photography and he spent a lot of time in the darkroom doing work that a fidgety boy was a distraction to. Being able to do that work in Lightroom rather than a darkroom in the basement would have been something he'd have loved.

I do miss the darkroom, but as ritual and nostalgia mostly. It was meditative, gloriously solitary, and nearly magical. It was also, as mentioned up thread, time consuming, expensive, and had space constraints.

I love digital, mostly because it increases the possibility for serendipity. Settings on the camera are more malleable, and post processing lets a person try so many more alternate techniques without too much of an investment in either time or money.

To join with the others offering up flickr streams, here's a set of my favorites

#185 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Lorax, check out Digital Photography School. They have (free) tutorials on everything imaginable, and a wonderful community. They do both shooting and postprocessing tutorials/articles.

When I started shooting, I liked finished images that resembled exactly what I saw in front of me when I took it: this flower, beside this wall, leaning on this bench. My style has slowly evolved, though, and my postprocessing techniques with it. Now I find that I don't always want things to look straight out of camera. YMMV, though, of course.

#186 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 09:00 PM:

#180: Thanks for the research!

Kira is German Shepherd sized.

The thing was about 10" long without the tail, say squirrel sized but pretty solidly built.

It had fur, but that was short.

I was expecting that Kira would drop it when I startled her with the flash. That is what happened right after I took this shot a few years ago:

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/kira_squirrel_lo.JPG

This time she hung onto her prize, and it was shortly in process of being munched up, starting with the head.

#187 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:05 PM:

I heard that Macmillian/Harper Collins books have gotten delisted or pulled from/by Amazon?

#188 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:41 PM:

I was just going to ask the same thing as Paula. I am trying to order some books and I can't buy them from amazon? The Tor ones I mean. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

#189 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2010, 11:53 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet: There is one major disadvantage to shooting with digital, and that is a moderately compressed range. You don't notice it in regular photography much, but we photograph a lot of students with dark skin and white shirts and let me tell you, it sucks. You literally cannot light it properly to get the shot without either over-exposing the shirts or under-exposing the skin. We have to do selective color even then, but chances are that if we photograph someone with dark skin in a tux, there is no detail in the shirt. None. You can barely see the edges of the collar.

Incidentally, the worst skin tones to photograph seem to be Indian/Pakistani. They're the most matte and you have to do some truly weird things in post to get definition. (I did process one student of European heritage last week that had the exact same problem— a skin tone so even you could barely make out her nose. It wasn't the lighting because her hair was well-defined.)

This is the most mind-numbing time of the year, the time when we're putting the senior sections together. They have to be cropped exactly alike— not nearly so hard as it used to be, especially since we have one person doing all the cropping. Then we have to color-correct them so they're all the same. Not "all white", mind you, but so that one kid doesn't show up green. It's always a judgement call because you really have to guess what their actual skin tone is, and even then you probably have to skew it towards the norm. PLUS we've got to make the backgrounds match, and if you think getting the right skin tone is just a matter of matching the background, well, good luck. Somehow, pictures taken over the course of six months by many different photographers vary enough in lighting and minor shifts that the backgrounds won't tell you where the skin should be.

Thankfully, not too many "beat the photographer" moments. For once they seem to be shooting far enough out, and only a few wardrobe issues. (Suit instead of tux, mostly. That's actually a simpler fix than you might think.)

#190 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 12:11 AM:

#189 B. Durbin
Are you using a DSLR in RAW format? They have a lot wider bandwidth/dynamic range than point and shoot JPEG cameras....

#191 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 12:14 AM:

#186 Stefan
A friend who used to live on Possum Hollow Road, suggested that it might be an oppossum...

#192 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 66...
Can anyone identify this giant mole-like animal my dog found? (And ATE . . .)

It looks like a vole to me -- the tail's not long enough for a rat, and it looks entirely too rounded for an opossum.

#193 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 01:15 AM:

I was somewhat hesitant about posting links to some of my photos, but since others have been sharing, here are some of them:

skink
bee and leek flower
snake
lorikeets
pitchers


The rest can be found on my blog.

#194 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 01:33 AM:

It just dawned on me that I have a similar photo to that Stefan's trying to analyze.

In my case, though, I know exactly what Tigger had in her mouth. Thank heaven she wasn't one to roll in her kills.

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 01:35 AM:

Bruce Arthurs: One of the interesting things about the Speed graphic is that one may use it as an enlarger.

Graham Hughes: I find my hassie to be pretty sweet, inside it's limits. What I do know about it (and most 2 1/4 cameras) is the DoF is tricky, and I have a numer of really good images I can't blow up becase I moved the focus, just a wee bit.

It's really quiet.

Re "the digital darkroom" I'm mixed. I like playing with the paper, and the enlarger. There is a certain sensawunder which comes of seeing the latent image reveal itself. It's also a matter of craft. I got to see a half dozen versions of Moonrise over Hernandez next to each other. It was a revelation, because they were all very different, and all of them were from the same negative.

But it's time, and work, and a skill which requires maintainence.

Once I found Lightzone (my preferred editing program), I got some of that on the computer. But printing is a bit trickier, and the image in the print is different from the image on the screen.

And B&W, takes a fair bit of work, because the profiles aren't the same. What I also notice is my "eye" for B&W isn't really there when shooting with a digital camera. It comes right back when I'm using film, but I have to ponder things, and work at it, to get a B&W image from a digital file.

C Wingate: Yes, you can hold the lens directly against the glass (this also allows for keeping the camera still for longer exposures). Drawback... working distance. Most lenses won't let you focus at the distance from the subject the glass puts the lens. I have a number of slides from the Gem and Mineral Exhibit, which were taken that way. I was using a 55mm macro lens, which let me focus at as little as 6".

DDB: The major issue of resolution I was talking about are color (the LCD is 256 colors) and light values. The range on the LCD is lacking for both of those. Even the D3 fails this test. Looking at the images (on the D3) and comparing them to the images when dowloaded... world of difference. Apart from composition, the images aren't the same.

I looked at the images which were giving me under/over warnings, and then looked at them online, and the values weren't the same. What bothers me with LCDs is that I can't pan the image and shoot. I have to stop if I want to know what is actually on the immage plane at the time of shutter release.

re slides: for the Nikons, there are designed attachments for duping slides.

#197 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 03:12 AM:

I'm hoping that an earlier comment containing links to five of my favourite photos will eventually come out of moderation at some point, but in case it doesn't, here's the blog from which they come.

Tim Hall @ #42: Do you have the train photo online somewhere?

Terry Karney @ #87: I've managed so far to avoid topping myself trying to get a good photo simply because my instinct for self-preservation still overrides most things. :) I will, however, watch my subject for a long time just so I can get the perfect "pose".

#198 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 04:12 AM:

mcz @197:
OK, it's through now. Comment 195.

No idea why, but it actually got flagged as truespam rather than being put into the moderation queue.

I don't know why. I do not meddle in the affairs of spam filters, for I am crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

#199 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 04:40 AM:

Thank you, abi.

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 07:49 AM:

Who knew that, in 1962, Disney made a movie in which a drag queen appears?

#201 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 08:37 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 191: definitely wrong for an oppossum, on lots of counts (wrong nose, wrong tail, wrong fur...

Stefan Jones @ 186 I've e-mailed the best small mammal identification expert I know. Let's see what he says.

lorax @ 183 Great picture, great horns.

mcz @197: thanks for sharing. Some great pictures. This thread is making me wish I had a Flickr account so I could share some of mine. Oh well.

#202 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 09:11 AM:

Serge @200: Title, please?

#203 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:00 AM:

#189 B. Durbin

White shirts too white? I wonder if there's something about how they're washed. There are detergent additives that use various tricks to fool the eye, things such as fluorescence at the blue end of the spectrum. I remember from the film days that a UV-blocking or 81A filter (looked very slightly pink) could make a difference. Even colour film could be more sensitive to blue light. That might reduce the relative brightness of the shirt enough.

Filters seem to have dropped off the scope for a lot of things. Some effects filters are still used, but I suspect people just do Photoshop, where I would have used a graduated filter on colour, or a yellow filter on B+W (yellow because it blocked blue light).

Not much help now: filters were about getting control before the light struck the sensor. And a filter such as an 81A only cuts down a small part of the spectral range which is lumped together as "blue" in the imagefile.

Film also made you aware of colour temperature problems. And fluorescent lighting did all sorts of weird things. One advantage the professional portrait photographer had was a good lighting setup, which he was used to.

#204 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:00 AM:

Supposedly there is some software which can as focus fixing for out of focus digital images.... I don't remember the name, and forgot how the stuff might work... (I still vividly remember the end of the last part of an image processing class that I took, where the professor projects a in image that looking like lots of pixellated noise, with an analog projector. He then used the optical manual focus, and an image of Lincoln came into sharp focus. Alas, I forget the words he said about what to remember, but the change from pixellated apparently visual noise, to sharp image of Lincoln, was very vivid....)

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:03 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 202... The movie is "Moon Pilot". At some point, the FBI, with the collaboration of San Francisco's police, both of which seem populated by twits, is trying to track down astronaut Tom Tryon (remember "I Married a Monster from Outer Space"?), who's on the run with a cute 20-year-old alien redhead who speaks with a French accent even thicker than mine. They round up all the red-haired women they can grab for a police lineup. This being San Francisco in 1962, that means mostly crazy beatnick girls, plus what may be an angry lesbian, and one very tall woman that, after a moment, I realized was a man in drag.

#206 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:09 AM:

James Ray has given a thing-resembling-an-interview in which he makes a half-assed attempt to defend himself. Including claiming that he didn't mean it literally when asked about telling people in the sweat lodge "You’re not going to die. You might think you are, but you’re not going to die."

And on other things, he either refers the interviewer to his previous statements, or his lawyer says he won't answer.

I suspect he thought that offering New York an "exclusive interview" would get him gentler treatment than it did.

#207 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:43 AM:

Condolences to Abi.
Digital, as soon as I could afford one. Years of wasted film, and developers that in one case were as clueless as I, pushed me over the edge.
The caregiving subthread cuts deep. My parents are getting frail, and one will be taken care off by a cousin but the other won't. Some disabilities that affect me, plus ...issues from my youth, prevent me from being a caretaker for them. I myself have no younger relatives, and figure that before I get too helpless I will have to do one of those things that ensure what passes for an elder care industry, won't take me alive.
Haven't seen the mystery-animal pic, but my other cousin came face to face with a mountain-beaver one time; might that be it?

#208 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 10:43 AM:

I have to admit that I rather care for shoddy phone cameras and failing to get Lomography right.

(Although, I can't find the charger for the 7250i and newer phones have much less worse cameras. Damn you, progress!)

[FX: Shakey fist]

I should imagine that one day, digital cameras will have the form-factor and UI of a LC-A or XA2, but until then I'll stick to Fujicolor.

#209 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Paula Lieberman: We physically can't handle the amount of data needed to shoot everything in RAW. Each high school has approximately 400+ seniors, so the numbers add up quickly, plus there's that extra processing time that RAW takes if you want to get any good out of it.

We do use RAW for certain applications, particularly giant group shots. But those have all of their processing done in-house. (We send out our general retouching because we literally cannot get it done at the prices we get when we send it out.)

Dave Bell: Some of the craziest pics I saw were a dark-skinned guy in a white tux at a prom with outdoor photography. In sunlight. The sensor spazzed out so badly that we got what we call "mustard"— pixels of pure yellow— along the edges. Took a lot of fixing. That was a few camera models ago; I haven't seen that issue with the S5 models.

P.S. Why are studio photos so expensive? Part of the reason is camera maintenance and upgrades. A studio camera may take 300-400 shots a day while it's in use, though 60-100 is more common. To give you an idea, I've got 7000 shots on my Flickr stream over a five-year period, and you could get that many on a single camera in less than two weeks during peak times.

#210 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:39 AM:

I always take notes, while using a given camera, on what I want to upgrade/improve in the next one (once I've run the current one into the ground; I mostly can't afford to buy a new camera unless the old one is dead dead dead).

When I switched from film to digital, I got the best camera I could afford then (end of 2001 after-Christmas sales; it was a Sony Cybershot P7). I was impressed with a lot of it, but missed something acutely -- right before the switch, I'd started shooting on 1000ASA film, which suddenly made my indoor, no-flash,* ambient-light convention snapshots NOT look like the people were in a fishtank. However, my new digicam only went up, barely, to 800, and WOW did it make a massive difference.

So I shot on that for a while and learned how to manage the camera and my (minimal) post-processing software to handle it so they only looked 'odd' and not 'omg wtf bbq', but light sensitivity went to the top of the pile of features to seek.

The camera after that (Sony DSC-W50), I suddenly found myself wanting more optical zoom,** though I liked a lot of the other features; I also started, with that camera, wanting to have at least a little bit of manual focus control. I replaced the W50 with a Sony DSC-H2, which I like very much; I don't like how (comparatively) huge it is. One thing I loved about the W50 and its predecessor is that I could shove them in a pants-pocket and shoot anywhere, anytime, but if I want optical zoom there's a limit to how small the body can be, alas.

I have stuck with Sony not from any ideological attachment because (a) their menus make sense to me -- I can't shoot on a Canon, because I can't find anything -- and (b) I already have a bunch of high-capacity memory sticks, so that's one new-camera expense waived, though I was annoyed to find that the W50 (et seq.) use the new 'memory stick duo,' which is half the size, so my older full-length ones became very unuseful.

I'm not sure what my itchy 'upgrade this feature' feature is, but luckily for my budget, the H2 seems to be holding up decently. Maybe better, less noisy low-light performance (blacks end up with dark-orange confetti on them sometimes); maybe a larger sensor, if there's any consistent way to find out how big the sensors are on the cameras I window-shop. :->

* I should note that I absolutely detest the results you get when you use the built-in flash on almost any camera I've tried it with; it flattens everything and makes it look awful and blown-out (or far too dark, for the background); I'd rather shoot without it and adjust afterwards, since it gives me more usable shots even with all the utterly-unusable pixelated hot-noise stuff. This may be me being serious-photography bigoted; I like the results of real, nice bounce flashes, but none of the cameras I've shot on recently has a hot shoe, so it's not exactly an option. I do get interesting results shooting by OTHER people's flashes, as when I'm at a wedding.
** I much prefer optical zoom to digital; with the cameras I've tried it on, I'd much rather have GIMP interpolate pixels than the onboard software, because if I use the 'digital zoom' the pictures get very bad very quickly.

#211 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 12:47 PM:

(26 years, here.)

My first workshop experience was in photography. My father's best friend from high school pursued his love for for it and became a full-time nature photographer. Some of my earliest memories are falling asleep to the sound of a slide projector as my father's friend and he argued the merits of one shot or another for next year's calendar, choosing only twelve from literally hundreds of shots, and choosing the all-important cover shot. While it wasn't an official workshop, the process and spirit were much the same. And as the business grew from calendars to books to other products, those long nights with the slide projector happened more frequently. I think that on some level, nights like that prepared me to show my own work to other people later on -- academic, creative, extra-curricular, etc. I was (inadvertently, I think) raised to see the involvement of others in one's creative endeavours as simply another part of the process. More than anything else I might have absorbed about colour or composition, that was the most important lesson.

#212 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 01:37 PM:

mcz: I have some shots like some of those:

Land Iguana, Pta Ayora

and

Jodhpurs

Dave Bell: Filters still work, but a lot of it is easier to fix (that is takes less time) in editing. I've written up the use of filters for B&W Digital, and some (polarizing, ND) are still useful.

It's the same as it was, but some of the filtering aspects (81A/81B) are built into the camera as settings (cloudy/shady), and others aren't worth the light loss any more.

Elliot: digital zoom is anathema. Better to crop in post. If the detail is there, it's there. If it's not, the camera can't create it.

On camera flash is too close to the axis of the lens. The first thing most photographers ought to do to improve the look of their shots is get an off-camera strobe (the second is a tripod). One of the things I reccomend for people looking to get a camera is to look at the strobe options. If a cable can be used, that's one more plus to that camera.

#213 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 02:00 PM:

Stefan Jones: I have an answer regarding your critter: "It is definitely a Pocket Gopher (Thomomys sp.) several have distinctive white chin patches and I think a couple of species occur in Oregon."

My expert didn't have his USA mammal books with him, so he couldn't narrow it down to exactly which species. If you want that detail you'll just have to go to your local library and look for pictures of your local Thomomys spp. pocket gophers

#214 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 02:15 PM:

mcz: Oh, and one of the things I noticed about the skink was the concrete. Much like the iguana, it looks like really fine sand.

#215 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 04:21 PM:

#213: Ah, I think your friend nailed it!

None of the images I found via Google is exactly match the coat color pattern, but the build and size and coat texture of the critter Kira found and ate is close to them. Probably just one of the many variations.

Thanks!

#216 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 04:32 PM:

Patrick, Thank you for the update on Phil Agre. (It was a low-level worry; we didn't actually know each other, but I was on Red Rock Eaters for most of its history, and when I apparently lost a pen yesterday, the thought went "It's a cheap pen, I can get more…Phil Agre, I hope he's okay."

#217 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 215

You're welcome. I'd thought it must be a pocket gopher by process of elimination (as indicated earlier), but I really trust my friend on identification of small mammals!

#218 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 06:48 PM:

B Durbin @209 --

400 25MB raw files is 10 GB; 40,000 25MB raw files is 1 TB, which is 100 USD or thereabouts.

Batch converters, such as dcraw, can be fed settings; I've never had to do it for production purposes, but if you've got 400 pictures against a specific background, you can get the white balance for that photographer's setup and run those settings on the whole batch of 400.

Now, admittedly, processing 40,000 raw files is going to take some time, but possibly less than opening 40,000 JPEGs and fighting with the colour balance does.

#219 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:33 PM:

Teresa: I apologize if this is a frequently asked question and the answer is someplace that I should have thought to look, but do you imagine you'll revisit your Sandman re-reads?

I loved the first installment, and it inspired me to buy the new editions. I love them, and I've thoroughly enjoyed re-reading them, especially the bits that I was able to re-examine with the benefit of your article.

#220 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Graydon: There's one thing you're missing from the equation, and that is that we're not dealing with programmers here, we're dealing with photographers. Our system is this insane hodgepodge of computers dating almost as far back as there has been photography, with each idiosyncratic box having its own OS and programs.* Our primary tech guy has been learning this as we go along, because he's not an IT person, he's a photo production person who had to learn some programming to save our necks.

In fact, *I* have had significant input into the processes, both in and out of the computer.** Remember, I'm one of the digital artists.

So when I say there isn't storage space, it's partly because like many other companies, we're strapped for cash, but primarily it's because I'm amazed we've managed to set up our server system correctly.***

*The primary digital artist (used to be me, now it's this talented lady L.) works on a Windows 2000 system with Photoshop 7. The back-of-house secretary has CS2. I know somebody has Vista, and I also know that the color-correction monitor has not run Adobe Gamma (to adjust the color in-system) for three years. That's right, the person doing color correction cannot adjust the color on her monitor.

At least we finally got rid of the box running Windows 95.

**"When it says 'Fill out the back of the envelope completely,' that means fill it out, you idiot. And if you put 'STD' for the litho text again instead of the 'exact text wanted', I'm going to PUT that on the photo and blame it on you!"

***When Gareth was two weeks old, I took him in to show him off and spent five hours repairing damage from a server crash. As in, massive loss of data server crash. As in, five months of work and prep gone server crash. And of course the backup didn't take.

Not to mention the occasional network weirdnesses...

#221 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:42 PM:

My Flickr (note that the recent stuff is more snapshotty, the sets somewhat more considered).

IANAPP, but if I had to make 400 shots look consistent, I'd be using Lightroom and RAW, and have the photographer shoot a colorbalance card or grey card each day, or on each lighting change. Also note, I'd go insane in less than one day on that sort of job, so feel free to disregard.

I've had three big inflection points in my photography, Getting my first (D)SLR (digital rebel), Getting Lightroom and shooting raw, and Learning about off camera flash (strobist.com).

The DSLR was the first big change. I could actually like shoot how I wanted to. I look at similar images from Pre and Post lightroom, and the later stuff just looks way better, even if I don't do a whole lot to it. I think that the RAW converter in lightroom is more pleasing to me than Canon's. Finally, I hit on a period of creativity when I found strobist.com, and it pushed me real hard for about a year. I lost a few things in the transition, but I gained a lot more.

(I'll also note that wearing out the rebel's shutter and replacing it with a 40d was at best, a break even for my photography. Quality might be better, but its less a part of me, and my best work has not been with the new camera, even after a year and 10000 images.)

#222 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2010, 11:53 PM:

My latest craft project: octopus-style toques.

#223 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Aaaaaaah! Cthulhu has devoured you!

...I kind of want one.

#224 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 10:16 AM:

Abi, my condolences to you and your family. (Sorry, there's a lot of interruptions in my internet access right now.)

#225 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 10:43 AM:

"insane hodgepodge of computers dating almost as far back as there has been photography"

...there has been digital photography. Blorf.

#226 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 02:05 PM:

B. Durbin @225: Aw, darn. And here I was picturing someone sitting and enhancing daguerrotypes with the aid of a Babbage Numerator...

No, I have no idea how that'd work, but the polished wood and brass fittings, and the inevitable black curtain draped over the back, are lovely to contemplate!

#227 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 03:28 PM:

I have a photography question on behalf of someone else. She has a very large collection of family photos she wants to scan. Now, she wants the quality high, so that interesting details don't get lost. She also doesn't want to dedicate all available hard drive space to the project. Would you knowledgeable people take pity on her ignorance and mine and offer some wise words about the tradeoffs of quality and file size, or point us at some good discussions of them elsewhere? Thanks!

#228 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Abi, much-belated condolences (thought I'd posted, was wrong).

Joel Polowin @222: Ooooh, want!

#229 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Bruce @ #227, we're trying to (get organized to) scan 60 years of photos ourselves. We've done about 14 Windows folders with 10-14 photos in each. It takes a long time.

The first step: the person with the most knowledge of the people in the pics has to determine which ones are worth saving. Those are separated out from the albums (envelopes are good). Then the contents of each envelope are scanned. Here's where it gets even slower, though. Each photo has about 3 or 4 data holes to be filled in: caption, tag, full description, and even photo name if you want something better than DSC030168. That makes for a bunch of typing.

What we've been doing: Mom identifies pictures, places each on scanner. I sit across room with laptop that has scanner software installed. I control the scan, including resolution and end location (which folder) in Windows Pictures. Once the scan is complete, I call up the picture and Mom dictates the info to me; I type it in.

14 photos = roughly two hours work.

If your friend wants to scan everything she's got and then add info, she's better off pricing bulk scanning companies. Some are pretty darned reasonable. I don't have names of them, because we looked at our quantity and decided that the task of going through each picture after the scan and trying to identify them was too daunting.

#230 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 04:37 PM:

Addendum to my #229. We haven't run into a disk space problem yet, but we've been backing up the Windows folders to a CD-ROM as we go. Obviously, you can delete from the hard drive once you've done that.

#231 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Kage Baker died this morning. I found out from friends who also knew her from the decades she spent working the Faire in Los Angeles/San Francisco.

#232 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Dammit. Kage Baker. We loose all the best people too young.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 06:06 PM:

My condolences to Kage Baker's family & friends.

#234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 06:34 PM:

lose, dammit. Not loose. Dammit.

#235 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 06:58 PM:

My sympathies to her family and friends too. She had been a guest at ConQuest a while ago, and was very gracious and kind.

I hate cancer.

#236 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Abi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

#237 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Dumb question for folks in the UK: what was "The Routemasters" radio series about. Can't really find much about it online, but it *looks* like it may have been a series about time travelling busses. (?) Am I right? If I've got it right, how many episodes were there and were they any good?

#238 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 03:34 AM:

I've recently joined a band called Reconnaissance Fly that specializes in settings of spam poetry. We'll be playing live on KUSF on Thursday morning, 11 am PST. They also webcast, so you can tune in from your home or cubicle.

The line-up is Amar Chaudhary on keys and Kaoss Pad, Polly Moller on flute and vocals, and me on bass and SuperCollider. Musical styles range from post-modern chamber prog to graphically scored electroacoustic to science fiction radio theater.

For those in the SF Bay area, we're playing at Studio 1510 (1510 8th Street, Oakland, CA) on Friday night, along with Matt Davignon, who does cool things with heavily processed drum machines.

#239 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 09:52 AM:

Abi: Belated condolences.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 11:02 AM:

"Moloch! Don't just stand there cringing!"

- Today's episode of "Girl Genius", and I'll try not to remind myself that my wife thinks Moloch looks like me 20 years ago.

#241 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Bruce@227: The first big distinction is scanning prints, vs. scanning the original film (negatives or slides). (The chances of anybody having the negatives still around is small, of course, but I include it for completeness.)

Surprising, I hope, nobody, you need to scan at higher resolution if you're scanning that little 24x36mm bit of film than if you've got a 4x6 print.

For prints, a flatbed scanner is the tool of choice. And there's little to no point at scanning above 300 pixels per inch (if the prints are very carefully made, 600 pixels per inch might possibly be beneficial maybe). Nearly any flatbed scanner does quite a good job -- the brightness range of a piece of paper just isn't that challenging.

(A digression on confusing terminology. The "dpi" or "ppi" value reported in graphics files does not mean anything significant, and the best thing to do is to ignore it and work with actual pixel dimensions. About the only thing software actually uses the dpi value for is the default size that an image is placed into a document at -- just the default, it doesn't constrain your ability to resize it.)

Scanning film is MUCH more finicky. A real film scanner is highly recommended, and if you're dealing with color materials, one supporting "ICE" (which magically eliminates lots of scratches, hairs, dust, and dirt). The fact that a flatbed supports scanning transparencies at 4000dpi does NOT mean that it will produce as good a scan as a Nikon Coolscan 5000ED at 4000dpi; in fact they almost never come close.

(Ice was invented by Applied Science Fiction in Austin, then bought by Kodak. They add a fourth scan channel, in the infrared. Turns out the dyes used in all materials except the cyan dye in old Kodachrome are transparent in the infrared; so that infrared scan channel gives them a map of damage. Then they use ordinary pixel interpolation to fill in the damage. It works amazingly well, though you should certainly clear off any loose debris before scanning. As you might guess, the metallic silver grains in a B&W image block the infrared, so ICE doesn't work on ordinary B&W film at all.)

The way I work, the goal of the scanning is to capture all the information; not to get as good-looking a rendition of the picture as possible. That second is the end goal, but by limiting my goals in the scan, I can make the scanning go faster, and reduce the impact of mistaken judgments during the scanning.

I strongly recommend storing the original scan in TIFF format (not jpeg, which uses lossy compression and produces visible artifacts). Do this before starting to edit it. Having the original scan to go back to when you decide your editing decisions have been wrong is wonderfully liberating. (Jpeg is great for storing a final version of a photo for most purposes; your scan is NOT the final version of the photo.)

Use the IPTC fields for "writing on the back" of your digital images. Keyword with people's names. Fill in the places and dates so far as you know them (annoyingly, the date formats aren't really friendly to partial dates, probably due to their historical origin identifying pictures transmitted over the newswire for magazines and newspapers). Places like Flickr and PICASA will pick up this information, and for that matter Windows Explorer knows about some of it.

A good digital asset management solution may possibly be overkill for family photos (some people use some of these things for collections of several hundred thousand photos); but then again, good tools for identifying, searching, comparing, and so forth, make the job easier. ACDSee is a good product that does many things pretty well. Thumbs Plus is what I use, and has advantages and disadvantages (ACDSee covers more bits of the process; I'm using a lot of separate pieces of software, each optimized for one job; when I come back from a weekend with 2500 photos, I need a really slick workflow to avoid going insane). or PICASA on your computer does quite a bit for free. Or Lightroom includes asset management, plus is a quite powerful photo editor.

I've used scancafe.com, a bulk scanning company. Their big gimmick is that you can review your order online and delete up to half of what you sent them, and you don't pay for the part you delete (and they don't send you the scans). The scan quality was quite good (I have professional-type standards for this stuff). My biggest problem with them was that the web interface for reviewing and deleting was slow and fairly inconvenient, so that step took a lot more time than it should. Furthermore, the preview they give you is small enough that I failed to spot a number of cases where the image was too out of focus to use in the review process (obviously they don't want to give you a preview good enough that you capture it and keep it instead of the real scan!). There are bunches of other companies with relatively similar terms in the bulk scanning for consumers business.

If I didn't already have lots of things in place from my own photography, I think I'd send slides and negatives to scancafe.com or a competitor, scan prints myself on a flatbed, and use picasa or lightroom or ACDSee to organize and mark things.

If stuff is old enough that you have non-silver-gelatin B&W, glass plates, and other older exotica, consult an expert or at least ask for more detailed advice.

Feel free to email me (I'm trivially easy to find) with more specific questions.

#242 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Graydon@218: Now, admittedly, processing 40,000 raw files is going to take some time, but possibly less than opening 40,000 JPEGs and fighting with the colour balance does.

Lightroom does well on batches of raws, but I don't use it so I don't really know how fast.

Bibble Pro processes my D700 raw files into web-resolution jpegs (with my group or individual adjustments included) at a bit over 1/2 second each, looks like it should be about 8 hours to do 40,000. Which, compared to futzing individually, is several orders of magnitude improvement; perhaps even "many". And you have to process the camera original JPEG for most purposes anyway.

#243 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Paula@204: Focus fixing software includes

http://www.focusmagic.com/
http://www.fixerlabs.com/EN/photoshop_plugins/focusfixer.htm

I use the first, have heard the second talked about favorably by others.

You can't do totally magical things with the digitized files, but sometimes you can move the photo from "not good enough" to "good enough", which is very useful.

Two URLs; I think this may appear late and trouble the admins, sorry.

#244 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 02:18 PM:

Lizzy L @ 123

I totally agree. Color photos can be amazing and wonderful, but there is just something about black and white. Perhaps it is because we don't ordinarily see the world that way, so it forces us to see things in a new way, whereas color replicates what we usually see. We evaluate the images differently.

#245 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 02:27 PM:


http://www.yenrelish.com/2009/11/pod-publisher-comparison.html

"Booksurge... Keep Away! I never saw any royalties from the book I published through themI ...they admitted that they had indeed pirated the book and were selling it without my permission."


A copyright infringement lawsuit against Booksurge...

http://www.boliven.com/legal_proceeding/1:08-cv-01068-WWC?q=

"CLOSED, HBG, STANDARD

"United States District Court
Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 1:08-cv-01068-WWC

"Benjey v. Amazon.Com, Inc. et al
Assigned to: Honorable William W. Caldwell
Cause: 17:504 Copyright Infringement
Date Filed: 06/03/2008
Date Terminated: 03/02/2009
Jury Demand: Plaintiff
Nature of Suit: 820 Copyright
Jurisdiction: Federal Question

#246 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Bruce Baugh: One thing to note is that you scan for roughly 300 dpi at your target size, not the original. If all you have is two-inch contacts, and you want an 8x10 out of the process, make sure you do the math. (Scanners will often have the option to set the target size.) Most prints won't need 8x10s, obviously, but you might come across something precious.

I will have to look up scancafe. That sounds like a wonderful service. (Now I just need to find a video-to-digital file service closer than fifty miles away. I have about a dozen tapes that really ought to be dealt with.)

#247 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 03:21 PM:

I'd also be interested in recommendation for video-to-digital (or rather film-to-digital) conversion services. My sister and brother-in-law have inherited about 35 reels of 8mm film - everything from family holidays and vacations to grandma's cakes. [Apparently his grandmother was hugely into decorating cakes, and several large reels are labeled "my favorite cakes".] While not so interested in preserving the cake-decorating and out-the-window-driving-through-Nebraska scenes in their entirety, they'd love to have the rest accessible for the family.

#248 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 04:40 PM:

B.Durbin@246: No, that's that confusion about virtual resolutions I was trying to warn about. When scanning paper prints, unless they're very very unusual there's no information there above 300ppi, no point in scanning above 300ppi. For exceptional prints, maybe 600. (Okay, if you've got original Edward Weston contact prints from 8x10 negatives, you might need to go higher; haven't worked with that level materials.)

Also, philosophically, scanning does not have a "target size"; scanning, as I practice it, is attempting to capture the information present in a piece of paper (or film). What I do with it later I decide later (and often depends on what materials I can gather and identify and so forth; often the "later" is months or years after the scanning).

#249 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Political open-threadyness: Many of you have probably already seen this over at Atrios, but for those who haven't- I wish I could say something witty or snarky about this, but I can't.

#250 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Something I found amusing, particularly when thinking about the unbeatable juggernauts of today.

AOL owns the Internet.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Steve C @ 250... It's nice to be reminded that juggernautiness can breed arrogance, and people eventually tell the Juggie to go bleep himself. One can hope the same thing will happen to a certain online bookseller named after a South-American river. As for that Tom Hanks movie... Blech. I much prefered the original, and also the Judy Garland remake.

#252 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Open Threadiness:

Some time back we were talking knitting with cotton yarn and someone mentioned that if I was ever in a position of Stash Reduction that they wouldn't object to knowing about it because they Had A Use for the stuff.

Could that person email me at rebelsquirrel AT gmail DOT com please? I might have something for you.

#253 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Diatryma @62: Any tips on how to make things and see the whole rather than every tiny flaw?

First half-second rule: put the work away for a while, then pull it out and look at it. What happens in the first half second (before your mental image or artistic prejudices cut in) will be your best guide to whether the piece "works."

Also look at it in the mirror.

#254 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 07:53 PM:

Thena,

That was cgeye here:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/011047.html#328214

#255 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 07:57 PM:

Serge at 251:
Juggernaughtiness?

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 08:35 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 255... That too. And 'juggernuttiness' for the bunch that was running the Country for the first 8 years of the 21st Century.

#257 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 08:38 PM:

Belatedly, HERE is the gift I gave my wife for our wedding anniversary. TexAnne will be glad to know that his jacket comes off, and that he does wear an undershirt.

#258 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2010, 09:47 PM:

Thanks Nancy - I don't have their address so I'm hoping they are still around here someplace :-)

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 12:00 AM:

Colorado Springs, facing revenue woes, slashes essential services.

Two thoughts:

1) Focus on the Family is based in Colorado Springs. I wonder how much they're willing to contribute toward maintaining fire stations and road upkeep? Or will they just hire private security and say, "Let them eat cake" about those who can't?

2) If this works out the way it seems to be headed, it'll be an object lesson in what "starving the beast" REALLY accomplishes.

#260 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 01:34 AM:

Serge @257:

You know, I had a dream the other night that someone on Making Light (Mary Dell, I think) had persuaded you to get into the lifelike and artistic doll community. When I woke, I couldn't quite place whether the dream reflected an underlying reality.

Weird seeing your comment with that still in my maybe-true mental stack.

#261 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 01:45 AM:

Lee @ #259, It's not just Focus that's located there. According to Sharlet's book The Family there are or were over 300 fundamentalist organizations headquartered in that town when he wrote it (2008). Perhaps many more.

If you believe what he says in that book (and I mostly do), it's entirely possible they'd all decide to have volunteer fire units rather than pay the city taxes.

#262 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 01:56 AM:

#259 Linkmeister
Colorado Springs has Space Command to its east, may still have Peterson Air Force Base, has Ft Carson at its immediate south, and the US Air Force Academy at its immediate north, and when I was there long ago was #3 military retirement area.... in the event of fire perhaps they are expecting military rescue?

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 07:20 AM:

abi @ 260... Coming soon, "Doctor Voodoom and the Living Dolls of Death"

And speaking of Mary Dell...

Happy Birthday, Mary!!!

#264 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 08:33 AM:

America the Whiny...

Why are you so terribly disappointing?

I had thought about writing a blog post about the PPOs -- the Perpetually Pissed Off -- but Mark Morford does it much better than I can.

#265 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 09:37 AM:

The Morford piece said it pretty well--thanks.
I suspect part of the problem is a lot of people don't know how to do much more than whine. The basics of activism are beyond them, let alone more advanced stuff. I myself aren't doing as much as I could. But I've done a few things to make my corner of the world a slightly better place.
Which I am going to use as an excuse for a new whine of my own, and it has to do with post #25. I read about these cases of elder abuse, and I wonder how many of them are someone trying to get revenge for being abused by parents or uncles or aunts many decades back--whether the old person is senile or just physically helpless.
That's why I am probably not going to be the caretaker for one parent, and definitely not for the other. It might require more restraint than I can muster, to not avenge myself--and even though I could probably cut deep enough with words alone, that still is not what I want to spend a lot of time doing. You folks had that thread some while back about relatives that are just unforgivable--well, I had something to add to it. I am 99% sure I would not do anything illegal--but I don't want that put to the test. I have discussed this a bit with the parent whose abuse was not sexual, and that parent doesn't know what's going to happen with the other one either. I think both have some help coming, 3 hots and a cot anyway, but not sure, and as for me when I get old, I am making plans.
They have expressed regret for most of the bad things, but even so, there's scars.
If I got rich I'd make sure someone took good care of them--but I don't want to do it, and in fact I think I can't, with these bad knees and all.
I don't love them, or anyone else--I'm not wired up that way--but I have a sense of duty, and some affection still. The last counselor I saw did nothing but parrot back to me how much my life sucked--I'm getting a better one [I hope].
Does anyone else suspect a connection between child abuse one decade and elder abuse several decades later? Is anyone tackling this aspect of it?

#266 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 10:27 AM:

This seems, all things considered, a good OT to have this appear in.

I've been publishd in the Schmap Guide to the Monterey Bay Aqarium

#267 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 11:52 AM:

Linkmeister, #261: But volunteer fire departments are Communist!

#268 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 12:40 PM:

Lee @267: and particularly insidious Communism because they pre-date Marx! I must write a letter to the Times....

#269 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Raphael (#249)

I love the section header: "When Things Go Wrong"

#270 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Terry Karney @ 266: Nice one!

#271 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 02:37 PM:

#259: Any increase in misery in Colorado Springs after a cutback in government services will be blamed on Mexicans, gays, liberal ideas in school textbooks, and a lack of taxpayer-funded Ten Commandments displays in public spaces.

#272 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Raphael @ 249: Actually, I'm more positive about the linked book (Basics for Bank Directors) than Atrios is. It's not written for bank *officers* or other people who run a bank day to day; rather it's meant for outsiders who are asked to serve on a bank's board of directors. (Generally banks have to have such people on their board to help oversee it.)

It's unfortunately pretty common for banks and other businesses to name prominent community people to their boards just for the prestige. There's been lots of those boards we've heard about lately that largely act as rubber stamps for whatever the CEO and management want to do. Even if the board members feel some sense of responsibility in their positions, they often don't know enough about how the business works to provide any sort of meaningful oversight.

That's what the linked book is intending to remedy. I haven't read through it all, but basically it's designed to train new board members to think like a bank examiner, and understand the basic things to watch for that affect a bank's soundness. Quoting from the preface, "You, like the examiner, must be able to draw conclusions about your bank's condition in a relatively short time without intimate knowledge of its daily operations."

For this audience, you want to start with the really basic principles, and then move on to the more detailed aspects of oversight (which it does, in the later chapters). That seems like a sensible approach to me; I'd like to see similar guides available for outside directors of all kinds of businesses.

#274 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 03:39 PM:

I knew that someone was working on a movie based on DC Comics's "Sgt Rock", but I just found out that the setting will not be WW2, but some near-future conflict.

WTF?

#275 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 04:10 PM:

Of possible interest to fluorospherians: PBS's Frontline airs a 90-minute program tonight titled "digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier."

One can also watch the whole show via the Frontline Web site.

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Bruce 273: Go, Admiral Mike!!

And of course that shithead John McCain has to put in his fucking oar. Sit down, John! And STFU. Your day is ended, and all other ruffians'.

#277 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 05:53 PM:

Paula @ 262:

I think they're expecting Divine Intervention. I wonder what their insurance companies will say about that.

#278 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Serge @ 274:
"I knew that someone was working on a movie based on DC Comics's "Sgt Rock", but I just found out that the setting will not be WW2, but some near-future conflict."

Hey, maybe he'll run into Jonah Hex there in the future!

#279 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 08:03 PM:

Credit where it is overdue: the poems in this thread are very fine work, most especially B Durbin's piece about caretaking. I need to get back to reading Making Light every few hours, so I don't fall so far behind, and maybe miss something really good like those poems.

#280 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 08:36 PM:

Happy Groundhog Day! (Or in Alaska, Happy Marmot Day! http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/02/sarah-palin-marmot-alaska.html )

We now return you to your regular programming for the next six weeks.

#281 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 08:39 PM:

McCain was a bad pilot.
McCain was a bad husband.
McCain is a dishonest politician (keeps selling himself and panders to extremist bigots).
McCain is a massive hypocrite.
McCain is no Julius Caesar, no Alexander of Macedonia, no James of Scotland and England, no Hadrian, no King of Spartan, no Mountbatten, no von Steuben... Not sure about King James, but Caesar, Alexander, Hadrian, the King of Sparta, and Mountbatten were bisexual leading warriors, James of Scotland and England was responsible for the King James Bible, and von Steuben was important soldier to the US War of Independence from Great Britain, and had come here because he was under a death sentence for homosexuality in Europe....

#282 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 08:39 PM:

McCain was a bad pilot.
McCain was a bad husband.
McCain is a dishonest politician (keeps selling himself and panders to extremist bigots).
McCain is a massive hypocrite.
McCain is no Julius Caesar, no Alexander of Macedonia, no James of Scotland and England, no Hadrian, no King of Spartan, no Mountbatten, no von Steuben... Not sure about King James, but Caesar, Alexander, Hadrian, the King of Sparta, and Mountbatten were bisexual leading warriors, James of Scotland and England was responsible for the King James Bible, and von Steuben was important soldier to the US War of Independence from Great Britain, and had come here because he was under a death sentence for homosexuality in Europe....

#283 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 09:14 PM:

McCain was a bad pilot.
McCain was a bad husband.
McCain is a dishonest politician (keeps selling himself and panders to extremist bigots).
McCain is a massive hypocrite.
McCain is no Julius Caesar, no Alexander of Macedonia, no James of Scotland and England, no Hadrian, no King of Spartan, no Mountbatten, no von Steuben... Not sure about King James, but Caesar, Alexander, Hadrian, the King of Sparta, and Mountbatten were bisexual leading warriors, James of Scotland and England was responsible for the King James Bible, and von Steuben was important soldier to the US War of Independence from Great Britain, and had come here because he was under a death sentence for homosexuality in Europe....

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 278... Don't you go giving them ideas! Luckily the Jonah Hex movie is sticking to the 19th Century.

#285 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Xopher @ 276 -- The report, and reactions to it, got some coverage on CBC Radio news this evening. I had a moment of cognitive dissonance -- it seems really weird to have important government officials gravely debating whether or not [significant minority group X] should really be allowed to serve in the military.

And yeah, McCain's "do we really have to make our armed forces deal with this, on top of two wars? Don't they have enough problems?" seemed awfully whiny.

#286 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2010, 09:36 PM:

McCain's a hypocrite--fine for him to hit on anything FEMALE that moved when he was a married fighter pilot before and after his Hanoi Hilton time, but not any male treating him the way he apparently treated women....

#287 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Paula @286:
fine for him to hit on anything FEMALE that moved when he was a married fighter pilot before and after his Hanoi Hilton time, but not any male treating *him* the way he apparently treated women....

That is exactly what so many opponents of gays in the military are afraid of. That guys will get treated the way that many female service members report being treated and have to do things like take a knife to the showers with them.

To which my reaction is generally, "Dude, please. You overestimate your irresistibility."

(Followed quickly by, "Now will you take sexual harassment and assault in the military seriously?")

#288 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 06:19 AM:

Paula @ 281 - 283: Happy Groundhog Day!

#289 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 07:44 AM:

abi @ 287: and in my experience, the guys who are most afraid this will happen are the ones who won't accept "no means no" from a woman. In other words, they, as individuals, expect gay men to treat them exactly how (badly) they treat women.

But I like your response.

#290 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 08:34 AM:

Argh. I was listening to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) being interviewed on NPR yesterday. He said that if they let gays and lesbians serve openly, they'd have to let "transgenders and hermaphrodites" in! They'd have to let everyone in! It would be "like civilian life"!

I…I don't even know how to respond to that. Where to even start?

(I found the audio and a transcript over at Pam's House Blend. So you can see that I Am Not Making This Up.)

#291 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 08:57 AM:

The British armed forces were not very happy about the idea, 10 years ago - and it turned into rather a damp squib: "There was this expectation that there would be problems, but it just didn't happen. People just got on with their work," and, what do you know, "Fears that allowing openly gay soldiers to serve on the front line would lead to a breakdown of discipline and cohesion within units also proved unfounded." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8493888.stm

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:08 AM:

Caroline @ 290... Hermaphrodites? Next, they'll allow shapeshifters.

#293 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Next, they'll allow shapeshifters.

Sergeant Angua, reporting for duty.

But only vampires who have taken the pledge.

#294 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:38 AM:

Bruce Cohen (# 273)
Quoting the BBC article, quoting:

Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the committee, ......
"Has this policy been ideal? No, it has not," he said. "But it has been effective."

Effective at what? Promoting ignorance, bigotry and fear?

Is *that* what you want your military members of your citizenry to remember of the values from their time of service to the nation?

#295 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 10:56 AM:

And then there's the other John McCain quote, the one nobody has picked up on except my friend Dusty:

"I understand the opposition to it, and I've had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to."
-John McCain, 2006 talking about "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

(emphasis mine)

#296 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Would the Latin enthusiasts among us tell me what I've gotten wrong in the following:

Ire domui non debere, sed non possum huc manere.

Much like Brian, I am particularly worried about the case of "domus".

#297 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:04 AM:

For the amusement of the Fluorosphere, a typical incendiary blog post. Comments may not be safe for work, if your boss hates laughter.

#298 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Tom @297, which would be a lot more fun if you could read it. Whose brilliant idea was the black print on woodgrain???

#299 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:30 AM:

Janet, #298: The page loads slowly (too much ad shit, I think). If you let it sit for a couple of minutes, you get a white background under the text.

#300 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft@298: The *idea* is black text on a white pane, with wood-grain sidebars. Your browser is losing the white pane part.

(Having spent much of the weekend trying to get that kind of web design working in IE, I sympathize. I failed, by the way.)

#301 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 01:30 PM:

The arguments against gays serving, here and in England, are nearly word-for-word the arguments against blacks serving in combat units alongside whites (there were all-black combat units, not very many, back to the opening of the west at least). Truman gave an order, and the military obeyed it, and it worked. Where's the only place in the US that whites routinely take orders from blacks and nobody on either side gives it a second thought? Where are the tables in the cafeteria (er, mess hall) integrated even if you just let people walk in and sit down with whoever they want?

(I know, Congress fucked that approach up by enacting DADT into law, the idiots. So they need to unenact it, and then order a change in policy.)

#302 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 01:46 PM:

I want one of these: "We've Got Some Work To Do Now"

The t-shirt is available on Threadless.

#303 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 02:08 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @272, oh. I stand corrected.

#304 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 03:06 PM:

For my Canadian friends, who've probably seen it already...I wanna be Canadian, Please.

#305 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Here's another sporadic update on my friend whose chronic illness threatened to destroy her family financially:

After spending her working life in a career she loved, she is now retired at forty-five, much against her will. Her chronic illness is now under control; she doesn't look sick anymore and her doctors recommend that she go back to work part time. Unfortunately, the job she was doing can't be split into two and there aren't any other openings for her skills that fit her medical needs. So she's retired.

The good news is that she works for the government. The even better news is that she works for a branch of government that offers an excellent disability plan at the state level. So, although she will have to present her case at least twice and wait about a year before seeing any money, she may be able to draw 70 percent of her pre-retirement salary and receive full insurance coverage. I didn't know this at the outset and neither did she.

So, possibly a much happier ending than if she had worked for a private business. We'll see.

#306 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 03:30 PM:

305 ::: Jenny Islander @305: Glad to hear that your friend is medically improved and that there's possibly somewhat-good-news re. pension etc. But sympathies for the enforced early retirement. Hope she manages to find something else she really wants to do with her time.

Tom Whitmore @ 297: thanks for the link; I just managed not to end up with beer-over-keyboard.

#307 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 04:47 PM:

I can't remember the name of a blog that gets linked here pretty often...it has a picture of a quizzical-looking dog on it. Maybe a border collie. Entries tend to be long and very smart. Any ideas?

#308 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 04:59 PM:

And I want one of these too: Steampunk Cheetah

(You do read this blog, don't you, Santa? And you're taking notes, right?)

#309 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 05:00 PM:

Mary Dell @307:

Jim Henley's excellent Unqualified Offerings, the contraindicator to the easy meme that all Libertarians are [crazy/stupid/deluded/insert similar adjective].

#310 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 05:00 PM:

And I want one of these too: Steampunk Cheetah

(You do read this blog, don't you, Santa? And you're taking notes, right?)

#311 ::: Santa Claus ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @308 & 310:

Of course I read this blog. We get a lot of people for the naughty list from the internet (we have IP tracing that you would not believe here at Santa Central).

Speaking of which, I'm noting your preferences, but I'm also watching you.

Just so you're clear.

Ho, ho, ho.

#312 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Santa:

It's been 45 years.

Still no pony.

You bastard.

Best Wishes,

Stefan

P.S. I finally went and got the puppy on my own, thank you very much. Prick.

#313 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 07:04 PM:

Coming soon... "Blood on Santa's Claw"!!!

#315 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:02 PM:

AP Reports that James Ray was indicted for 3 counts of manslaughter for the sweat lodge deaths, and arrested with $5M bail.

#316 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:27 PM:

Santa Claus's View All By: the secret identity revealed.

In that case, how come your handwriting always looked so much like my mother's?

#317 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 09:37 PM:

Not unexpected, even kings must die,
it was no secret, everyone had heard.
There was no cloud across the winter sky.

You sense the shaping, know that what went by
though it was sudden was, when it occurred,
not unexpected; even kings must die

at their due time, emit their one last sigh.
While many gathered hoping for some word
there was no cloud across the winter sky,

no final opening of one bright eye,
not a hoarse whisper, we had long inferred,
not unexpected; even kings must die

in a bright room with no friend there to cry
a century's tears, nor declare absurd
there was no cloud across the winter sky.

You have to dance as if you were to fly
a man no more, but a returning bird
not unexpected. Even kings must die.
There was no cloud across the winter sky.

#318 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 10:27 PM:

Fragano, 317: Breathtaking.

#319 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 10:39 PM:

Fragano, thank you for that. Beside it being a piece of art, the idea of writing that form (villanelle?) had intrigued me but the outlines of it were lost last June when the a-h broke into our house and stole Stardust, my Mac iBook.

I now have Stardust II, a MacBook (courtesy a lot of surprising but good things happening for once). Stuff to move us forward is happening now and I'm happy.

#320 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:03 PM:

Is this the one that was covered in Making Light a while ago? Very good news.

"Self-help guru charged over sweat lodge deaths"

(http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/04/2810195.htm?section=justin)

#321 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:27 PM:

Ray charged with 3 counts of manslaughter --

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#322 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:30 PM:

Bruce Arthurs #308:
The steampunk cheetah reminds me of a demoreel from Japan that wowed them all at SIGGRAPH '84. (possibly from a company called Toyo Links?)

It had a sort of robot lion and running skeletons.

There was momentarily a ghost-image of the lion's body with muscles flexing appearing over the robot lion. For a minute the audience thought "that's the image they sampled the data from" and then they realized that image was rendered too, and they cheered.

#323 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Here is the real problem with the fixing it by executive order is that Art 125 is part of USC 10. It takes the Senate and House, together, to get it changed.

That said, there is a way an EO could change it: Absolute enforcement.

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.

If that were applied to everyone, across the board, the hue and cry would be enough to get it repealed.

#324 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2010, 11:31 PM:

yes. It is, they've indicted the a-hole.

His responses after the fact indicate he's a self-centered, totally self-involved idiot, who doesn't give a rat's arse for the people who trust him. Screw him, he needs to be in jail.

#325 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 01:01 AM:

Open-threadiness --

The U.S.Tax Court has reversed the IRS and will allow deductions from federal taxes for sex reassignment surgery

#326 ::: Santa Claus ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 01:03 AM:

Stefan @312:
No pony has asked for you for Christmas, so my hands are tied. And as for the puppy, my gift to you that year was self-sufficiency.

Caroline @316:
Why do you assume that, being an accomplished housebreaker, I haven't also perfected the art of forgery? Remember that I have handwriting samples from pretty much everyone, and plenty of time and privacy to practice. Come to that, have you never considered the impact of my extensive internet and forgery skills on Making Light's (view all by) functionality? Maybe next time I'll use your email address.

Any further questions?

#327 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 01:36 AM:

Santa @ #326, It's February already! You appear to be still exhausted from your December labors, judging from your tone. Maybe you should take longer naps?

#328 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:40 AM:

CarrieS@296: Your first clause needs a finite verb -- looks to me like you want "Eo" instead of "Ire". Constructions describing motion to take the accusative case, so "domum" not "domui". Lastly, I think you want "hic" instead of "huc" (though since you didn't provide the English that you're trying to render, I can't be absolutely certain).

#329 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:46 AM:

Actually, now that I look at it again, "Ire" should remain as is, it's "debere" that should become "debeo". Argh, I hate it when my brain does that kind of thing.

#330 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 08:25 AM:

#328: I was going for "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here".

I thought it was "hic", but the reference I consulted gave me "huc", so I went with it; if it's wrong, that's reassuring. :)

I was wondering which verb needed to be not-an-infinitive. I should imagine "debes" rather than "debeo", since it's 2nd person, yes?

#331 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Corporation running for Congress

The best democracy money can buy

#332 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 08:55 AM:

TexAnne #317/Paula Helm Murray: Thanks.

#333 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 10:43 AM:

abi @#309: That's the one, thanks! I'll have to commit the name to memory. Googling "blog with dog on it" really doesn't work.

#334 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Xopher @#90: thanks, that's very helpful. The sentence is still fairly opaque to me, but at least now I can mentally file it under "awkward phrasing+new-to-me term" instead of "bwuh?" (It's from here, in case you're curious - the first line in the article).

#335 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Steve C. @331, what I'd like to see would be some petty crook who's been convicted of some white-collar stuff, and sentenced to jail time, appealing the sentence on Equal Protection grounds, by pointing out that a corporation wouldn't go to jail for the same action.

#336 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 11:09 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 296: The centurion in Life of Brian claims that, in the case of motion towards, "domus" takes the locative (which he agrees is "domum").

That scene constitutes my entire knowledge of Latin grammar, so I would be sad to find it was incorrect. Is it true about the locative?

In other Latin-related news, yesterday I spent a good bit of time grumping about the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal. The English is being changed to hew more closely to the Latin grammar and the extremely literal meaning of the Latin words. I think this is silly at best. I can understand liking the Latin Mass (though I was raised in enough of a post-Vatican-II, liberal Catholic household that I don't feel a draw to it), but Latinizing the English? I just don't see the point.

An example: Much discussion centers on the change from "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed" to "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." This is, of course, a quotation (Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6-7). The NRSV, which I've been taught is probably the best, most scholarly translation at least of the Gospels, renders the Luke version "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word and let my servant be healed." (Matthew deletes "do not trouble yourself, for" and "therefore I did not presume to come to you.")

If we're insisting on literal accuracy, then why the change to "soul"? The centurion (presumably not the same one from Life of Brian) is asking that Jesus heal his servant, not himself. Furthermore the entire point of the story is that the centurion recognizes Jesus as a man of power, like himself, who can command things to happen and they happen -- which is the next line of dialogue: "For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave 'Do this,' and he does it."

If we are deliberately taking it out of context to use the metaphor of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, then why not stick with "I am not worthy to receive you"?

In my religious studies degree, I did not learn about the history of the wording of the Mass, when and how it was written. I'd like to; I could think about these changes more intelligently, with an understanding of context.

Partly I'm having an emotional reaction against changing the words I grew up with, yes. But I don't see the reason for it, unless Latin grammar is considered inherently more sacred than English, which just seems silly to me.

#337 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 11:42 AM:

(P.S. I am aware that the Gospel quotation is actually from the Greek, which just confuses the issue further.)

#338 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Caroline, #336: unless Latin grammar is considered inherently more sacred than English

There's certainly a case to be made for that proposition, as it's what gives us the entire "no split infinitives" nonsense.

#339 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 12:51 PM:

unless Latin grammar is considered inherently more sacred than English, which just seems silly to me.

That was literally true for a long period in the history of English grammarians, and to some extent still is. Where do you think some of that truly stupid shit like "don't split an infinitive" and "don't end a sentence with a preposition" came from? Trying to impose Latin grammar on English, because Latin was seen as intrinsically better, rather than just the language a whole big blob of converts happened to speak.

If the Irish had had a worldwide empire and been largely converted, those dingbats and their dingbat descendents would be telling us that "Is Brian at walking" is better grammar than "Brian is walking."

#340 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 12:57 PM:

Heh. I didn't see Lee's post before posting mine (I fell asleep for a bit there). Lee: click!

#341 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Xopher @ 339: Me, at the thinking of you at the writing, it becomes the laughing in us. You have the winning at the internets. Having the water-of-life in the hands, me, saluting at you.

#342 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Ginger #341: riverrun

#343 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:10 PM:

It might be germane to point out, wrt grammar issues and Christianity, that the final blow in the fight that split the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in twain was over the addition of "filioque" to the Nicene Creed. It was well-intended; they were just groping for greater clarity in the Nicene Creed, when said in Latin rather than Greek--and things went downhill rapidly.

I'd explain, but it makes my head hurt. Read the Wikipedia article, and follow its links to other sources, if you have the strength. You are dealing here with people whose principal religious text identifies their Supreme Being with "Word*". The significance of, as well as the sacredness of specific language is not taken likely by this faith's theologians, whether that makes sense to us or not.


*Not the word-processing thing.

#344 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Caroline@336: In other Latin-related news, yesterday I spent a good bit of time grumping about the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal. The English is being changed to hew more closely to the Latin grammar and the extremely literal meaning of the Latin words. I think this is silly at best. I can understand liking the Latin Mass (though I was raised in enough of a post-Vatican-II, liberal Catholic household that I don't feel a draw to it), but Latinizing the English? I just don't see the point.

Church of England folk sometimes use the term 'liturgical fidget' for pointless tinkering with the words of a service, and that's what I immediately thought of on reading that list of changes. Explicit English-language nods towards odd bits of the Latin mass that have stuck in the cultural memory: sometimes translations, sometimes not-quite-translations. The Nicene Creed goes from third-person plural to third-person singular, which matches the Latin but makes less sense if you're all chanting it together; "And also with you" => "And with your spirit", cf. Et cum spiritu tuo; "through my own fault" => "through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault", cf mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

(Old joke: the priest, annoyed, taps his dead microphone. "There's something wrong with this." Congregation responds: "And also with you".)

I'm too young to have a memory of the Latin mass: to me, the Tridentine lives in the same universe as the pre-Beeching steam railway—lovely thing, but you can't bring it back. The English text of the mass is pretty well drilled into me in spite of my very infrequent attendance over the last several years, and I don't want it to be mucked around with, even in my absence.

(But if you are going to muck around with it, get rid of the phrase 'for ever and ever', which always used to set my teeth on edge a bit: it sounds too storybook, too happy-ever-after; to my ears it always made the poor priest sound a bit of an idiot to have to come out with such nursery-rhyme stuff. 'For ever and ever'. Grr.)

#345 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Fidelio #343:

"In the beginning was the Word Perfect"?

#346 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Caroline @ 336:

Our Latin teacher, who otherwise seemed to be a bit of a stuffed shirt, actually showed us impressionable kids that scene from Life of Brian. I would therefore assume it was scrupulously correct.

Also, while I have no dog in the race, I find the attempt to Latinize English for its on sake annoying. For one, translation is a tricky art (cf. the Don Quixote thread). Also, Latin grammar fits English about as well as a square peg fits a round hole, as Lee and Xopher commented.

There is something to be said for doing it if you want to give non-native speakers a flavor of the language. Xopher and Ginger give good examples. The Fox translation of the Torah is another interesting one. But it's not for everyday use.

#347 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Caroline at 336: Yeah, I'm also irritated by the changes in the Missal. I like what we say now. However, in the list of Things I Dearly Wish My Church Would Not Do, these changes in the liturgy appear far, far down from the top. I'll get used to the changes, even the ones I find silly or clumsy.

And then there's the Things I Dearly Wish My Church Would Do list....

#348 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:04 PM:

As Teresa put it in 2005, "the language Latin that same thing as English not is."

#349 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:07 PM:

Fragano @ #345, or worse: "In the Beginning was the Wang."

#350 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Lizzy L @ 347... I'm also irritated by the changes in the Missal

...enough to go ballistic?

#351 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:30 PM:

fidelio (#343): The filioque also becomes a plot point in one of Harry Turtledove's Basil Argyros stories.

#352 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Ginger 341: Not to me, the having Irish good as to you. Am I also at laughing. To was thousand good at you.

Lizzy L 347: Things I Dearly Wish My Church Would Do

Ordain women? Let priests (of both sexes) marry? Elect a Pope who isn't a former Grand Inquisitor? More generally, catch up to the 20th Century, never mind the 21st?

Sometimes ISTM that for any of those things to happen everyone in a red or white zucchetto would have to drop dead simultaneously. I hope it won't actually require that.

#353 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 03:50 PM:

I sit to laugh because we the Dutch as languageish paradigm not have. He should will funny be well.

#354 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Lizzy L @ 347: Oh yeah, I know what you mean with that one. I'm pretty well non-practicing these days, largely because of the Things I Dearly Wish My Church Would/Would Not Do list. (My relationship with being Catholic is complicated.)

The language thing is just much easier to grump about without getting depressing.

Tangential from fidelio: I did see someone online, in all apparent seriousness, arguing that the change from "one in being with the Father" to "consubstantial with the Father" was preferable because the small words trick us into thinking we can comprehend the mystery of the Trinity, and the big word tells us that we can't. I do not agree with the Mysteries Should Have Extra Syllables line of liturgical reasoning.

#355 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Oh, and s/third-person/first-person/g in my previous post. Oops.

(The prospect of the Pope's visiting Britain later this year seems to have brought a lot of residual anti-Catholicism out of the woodwork. Though it's fair to say that Benny's recent remarks haven't helped matters.)

#356 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 04:35 PM:

I do not agree with the Mysteries Should Have Extra Syllables line of liturgical reasoning.

It's worse than that. It's a Big Words Are Incomprehensible line of reasoning. What a frakking moron.

#357 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 04:59 PM:

I wonder how much of the "Vatican II: How we hate it and will now make it go away" mindset is behind some of this. (Not "if", btw.)

#358 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Re the NBC employees' cafeteria particle:

Oh dear, they forgot the watermelon.

#359 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 05:06 PM:

abi #353: In Dutch is two words one Romance one German for the same thing to have. That progressive and foroutstriving being.

#360 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 05:44 PM:

If you people keep talking funny, I'll have to do an impersonation of Pepe le Pew. Without the smell, of course.

#361 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Serge, I hate to break it to you...


ONLY KIDDING! HONEST! DON'T KILL ME!

#363 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 06:54 PM:

Caroline @336: As someone who remembers the newly-translated-from-the-Latin liturgy (with the exception of 'consubstantial') from 1967, I have to say that any recitation causing double or triple train-of-thought switches is going to be seriously disruptive. And as far as I can tell, that's what the new Roman Missal does.

I wonder if there are plans to restore second person (familiar) singular. Not that there aren't remnants of that, and not just in the hymns.

#364 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Xopher 352:
Dogs and Cats Living Together!

#365 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Steve C @ 362:

The pew, the proud!

#366 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 07:25 PM:

Xopher @ 361...

Le kittee quel terrible odeur!! Pardonnez-moi ... Joseph ... après-midi le fudge is burning!

#367 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 07:48 PM:

In the beginning was the TextEdit?

#368 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Thinking about the Pew Charitable Trust and Research Institute....

And around here, shouldn't we have The Final Word, from Mark of the Unicorn software? (First word processor I learned to use, why do you ask?)

#369 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 09:33 PM:

As far as I'm concerned, in the beginning was the WordStar.

^KD

#370 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 10:11 PM:

CarrieS@330: Yes, "debes". I was confused by your use of "possum", which is first person -- your second clause is "I cannot remain here", not "you cannot". The second person form is "potes".

I'm not completely sure, but I think the "possum + infinitive" construction you've used has the nuance that not staying is a matter of physical capability: there are irresistable forces sweeping you away whether you want to remain or not. If, as I guess, you're going for "I don't want you here, go away", I suggest using a passive periphrastic: "sed non hic manendus es." (Or "manenda" if addressing a woman. Unfortunately this construction, like LiveJournal at a certain time, doesn't leave the option of leaving sex unspecified.)

Caroline@336: The locative is a weird case that doesn't fit into the usual scheme of 5, and is always identical in form to the genitive or accusative anyway. I don't really worry about it.

#371 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2010, 11:24 PM:

You know Alpha? Workshop for young genre writers to which you can donate?

And you know the Dell Award? Which is pretty cool and prestigious and seriously squeeful?

Alphans have collectively done well with the Dell Award in the past. Most years, the deadline passes and various Alphans take note of who else sent in stories because by February, they're all going a bit crazy and just waiting for celebratory Livejournal and Facebook posts to let them know that the winners have been chosen.

Today, the list came out. Four Alphans took two honorable mentions, fourth, third, and the Dell Award itself.

I wish I could get to ICFA to see them. I am so happy.

#372 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 01:19 AM:

Re retranslated Catholic liturgy: The change that annoys me about the new Roman Missal is what they've done to the Gloria. Why? Because some idiot is going to try and cram the new translation into the older musical settings— and there's a whole extra line in the new version.

I wrote a mass setting for my wedding, but have held up trying it out on OCP pending these phrasing changes. Now I'm staring at the Gloria and wondering "how on earth am I going to make this work?"

Le sigh. I won't send it in until it's ready, and that just got pushed back pending inspiration.

#373 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 04:44 AM:

If Janet Croft sees this, or if someone who knows Janet Croft sees this, would she mind writing to me? She's supposed to be here in Albuquerque on February 13, but I don't know when exactly. My address is sergeunderscoreljatcomcastdotnet. Thanks.

#374 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 08:57 AM:

Xopher @ 352: The studying of Irish I had, for a little time, in the past. Complicated! Latin organized, more fun, enjoyed.

Serge @ 373: Sorry, the only Croft I've seen recently has been Lara.

#375 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Serge -- writing to you now!

#376 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 09:44 AM:

fidelio (# 357)

The "Lets pretend Vatican II never happened" attitude is one of the reasons I now worship in an Episcopal church these days.

(and if I wadn't already jumped rowboats, the recent papal offer for sheperd-stealing to /r/e/a/c/t/i/o/n/a/r/y/ /b/i/g/o/t/s/ disaffected Anglican priests would have had me checking my oarlocks)

#377 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Carrie @296 et seq. and David Goldfarb--
I am put in mind of the song "Closing Time", with the first verse:

Closing time, open all the doors
And let you out into the world
Closing time, turn all of the lights on
Over every boy and every girl
Closing time, one last call for alcohol
So finish your whiskey or beer
Closing time, you don’t have to go home
But you can’t stay here

(Bold added by me, just in case the bit in the last line slipped by people)

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Ginger @ 374... Was she a sight for sore eyes?

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 375... And I just wrote back to you.

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 02:14 PM:

For those who might be interested... I recently found that 1985's "Paladin of the Lost Hour", based on Ellison's story, and starring Danny Kaye, had been posted on YouTube. I took the liberty of posting links to the story's segments HERE.

#381 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 03:30 PM:

Tom Tancredo addresses the Tea Party Convention:

And then, something really odd happened, mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country. People who could not even spell the word "vote," or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House, name is Barack Hussein Obama.

Pardon my language but . . . what a fucking asshole.

And the worst part are the cheers from the audience.

#382 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Stefan Jones (#381): I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Tancredo couldn't answer 6 out of 10 questions from the US naturalization exam.

#383 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 03:44 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 381... This reminds me that, during last week's trip to the nearby comic-store, I came across a comic-book that left me wondering if I should laugh or groan. It's title was "Barack the Barbarian vs Red Sarah".

#384 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Christopher Davis @ 382... Yup. How many of them, if asked when the Constitution was written, would give the correct year?

#385 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Open threadiness:
I just got an "urgent" snail mail notification, that my property at 9800 Topanga Cyn Blvd may be eligible for special modification program. Based on public records and information obtained through Fannie Mae... Really?

That's the commercial property that holds my mailbox. Fannie Mae's records must really be screwed up.

Or the snailmail-spammer is. Is it silly season?

#386 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 07:24 PM:

I love it when right-wing loonies go after each other.

#387 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Steve with a book @344:
Problem with changing "forever and ever" is that they're translating from the original (yes, even in the NT; the language may be Koine, but they're following an established formula) לעולם ועד and there's not much in the way of alternative translations. (Maybe "now and in the afterlife", but I'm not sure that works exactly as stated given the different interpretation Christianity gives to that.)

Various:
Somehow, "In the beginning there was the Electric Pencil" just doesn't have the same ring.

#388 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Sign at work: "GBS is coming".

My first thought: "They're bringing in George Bernard Shaw? Isn't he a bit ripe by now?"

It turns out it's some updated timesheet, payroll, and other stuff application. Disappointing, to say the least.

#389 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 09:33 PM:

KeithS, 388: Rats, I thought it was Great Big Sea!

#390 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 11:03 PM:

A quick question: I have been doing work with An Electronic Device. That's all you'll get out of me: I like being employed and I had to sign papers. Anyway, in the course of using it I visited the Android Marketplace and found an electronic book app that's called Aldiko. I visited the section of "Free Public Domain Books" and downloaded a few, then started looking through the B's. Much to my surprise Ben Bova was listed--and one of the books was "The Dueling Machine" which as far as I know is not public domain. How does one handle this: contact the folks who have the program, or Mr. Bova's agent, or what?

#391 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2010, 11:50 PM:

Let me be clearer: I can't really do anything that might draw attention to the Device...

#392 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 390:

Aldiko simply uses Feedbooks as their provider for public domain ebooks, so I'd take it up with them first.

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 02:58 AM:

In the beginning was the purr.

#394 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 06:53 AM:

KeithS @388: Thank you, I feel less alone on the GBS thing.

#395 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 10:48 AM:

Snowy here in VA, again (twice in the last few days). My cat went out to watch the falling snow, but she came back in after only five minutes. The other day she stayed out there for a half-hour! (She has a sheltered spot behind the bushes, and a path to get there from the door. Happily, I can see her there from the door.)

Good day to bake bread, but I've had a tech failure there -- my new scale seems to be dead. I originally thought the problem was a dead battery (and indeed, the battery proved to be drained) but with a new battery, it doesn't start up at all. (Ditto when I replace the old battery.) This isn't a killer -- I do have another scale (cruder and smaller), but it's annoying.

Usually I'd take this to my EE stepfather, but have I mentioned lots of snow? I've been using the scale just long enough that I've surely discarded the receipts and packaging, so returning it is likely out. It was only a $30 item anyway -- but the lifetime was short enough to switch brands for the next one.

#396 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 11:53 AM:

And on another note, What the hell?? When did National Geographic start making pasteup cartoons with their animals, instead of actual clips of the animals?

#397 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 12:07 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @390

I just checked, and Bova's "The Dueling Machine" is on Project Gutenberg. Since I know that Gutenberg requires contributors to checks copyright, and I'm absolutely sure that Distributed Proofreaders is paranoid about copyright (and this particular edition was produced through DP), it's almost certainly out of copyright, or at least that particular edition is. The copyright probably wasn't renewed.

--Cally

#398 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Gah. How did I write "particular edition" twice to mean two different things? Let me try again.

The Project Gutenberg ebook was produced by Distributed Proofreaders. The dead tree edition that the folks at DP turned into the ebook was in the public domain, almost certainly due to lack of renewal. Other dead tree editions might or might not be in the public domain.

I know gweeks, the person who shepherded that book through DP, has been spearheading getting a lot of science fiction (largely short stories from the pulps) onto PG using Rule 6 copyright clearances.

#399 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 12:58 PM:

Cally Soukup:

The Project Gutenberg ebook was produced by Distributed Proofreaders. The dead tree edition that the folks at DP turned into the ebook was in the public domain, almost certainly due to lack of renewal. Other dead tree editions might or might not be in the public domain.

Thank you very much for the clarification! Looking at the artwork over at Feedbooks (and thank you, KeithS.), it looks like they used the original short from the large-format Analog from the 60's instead of the novel version, which may explain what's going on: I don't know how diligent Street and Smith was with renewals of material from that period outside of The Shadow, which they seem to have kept up-to-date. I just didn't want anyone ripping off the writer, since a good portion of our finances depends on my wife getting paid royalties on art she's produced. (Thank heaven for determined warrior penguins!)

#400 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:09 PM:

I'm marking the first essays of the semester, and this particular statement came to my notice: "In between their frequent breakups Wollstonecraft had committed suicide twice."

#401 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @400: She's either a vampire or a zombie, y'know. She's probably reading what you wrote right now.

#402 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 400 -- So the "reanimate the dead" premise of Frankenstein was at least partly from personal experience?

#403 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Fragano @400:

Well, OK, thus the theme of reanimation in her daughter's book. Write what you know...

</grim humor>

#404 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Pendrift #401: Are you sure the student in question has the BRAAAAAAAAAAAAINSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS?

#405 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Joel Polowin #402: Her daughter was certainly influenced by it.

#406 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Pipped at the post!

#407 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Following on to what Cally said about Project Gutenberg--here's a list of science fiction on Project Gutenberg. There are SF stories from magazines such as Astounding and Amazing, as well as a few pulp novels, that could be made available on PG because they are out of copyright because of non-renewal.

#408 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @404: They were eaten by Wollstonecraft, of course.

And you just made me remember this. I'm reading it now and slowly going insaaaaaaaane.

#409 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Pendrift @408:
You remind me of my intermittent series of verbal sketches for my kids entitled "My neighbor was a zombie for six months before I noticed anything".

Little rants like, "I remember the day he wanted to tell me something about the DRAAAAINS. It's true that they've never been good in the neighborhood. And his must be blocked, judging from the smell. But I was late for work, so I just drove off."

#410 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 04:15 PM:

>abi @ 409... I presume the problem was caused by excessive downpours, during which your neighbor could be seen and heard singin' in the raaaaiiiiiiiin.

#411 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Serge @410: but it's winter now, so he just sits inside the house watching the snow through the windowpaaaaaaane.

#412 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 06:26 PM:

a note to the SFBA Fluorosphere:

As I forgot to mention earlier, B. and I are having our 8th annual SuperB commercials party tomorrow (Sunday the 7th) up in the City (Richmond district). See my lj for slightly more info, or email me for details.

#413 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Grammar/style question. When using an ellipsis to indicate a pause (but not an omission): space before, space after, both, neither?

#414 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 02:51 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 237:

The Routemasters on the BBC's website. It appears that there were four episodes of it, and that it is, indeed, about a time-travelling bus. I can't speak to the quality of it, since this is the first I've heard of it.

#415 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 10:57 AM:

Lee, I prefer no space before and a space after... like that. I'm not sure what's written in style books, but it looks and reads better to me than the alternatives.

#416 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:01 AM:

...whereas I prefer neither, Lee.

#417 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:07 AM:

... and I tend to want spaces at both ends ...

#418 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:15 AM:

Hmm...no, I find that spaces really break the flow. And certainly there should never be a space between a period and a final ellipsis....

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:42 AM:

TexAnne @ 418... Speaking of typographical conventions, I really dislike the ones used in French for conversations. And I grew up with them.

#420 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:43 AM:

418
With you on that one.

#421 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Serge, are they the same as the ones in Spanish? You'd think that, with all the Spanish-class editions of Spanish literary classics with footnotes and explanations and such, there would be one with the dialogue formatted the way it is in typical English. That threw me every time.

#422 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 12:01 PM:

I'm with TexAnne...no spaces before or after.

#423 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 12:16 PM:

Diatryma, 421: Footnotes and explanations don't change the text.

#424 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Diatryma @ 421... In English, someone's response can contain some narration in it, then the response resumes, all of this in the same paragraph, with the actual conversation identified by double quotes, right? In French, it's all kept in separate paragraphs. And the only identification that it's someone speaking is if the line begins with a double dash.

#425 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Damn, I just heard the Phil Klass -- aka William Tenn -- passed away. I loved his stories.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=xover&group=sff.discuss.obituaries

#426 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 07:46 PM:

Wow. Just saw this video. Sarah Palin reading cheatnotes off her palm at a convention of morons teabaggers.

#427 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 08:25 PM:

Xopher @ 426... My wife just came across it on a blog that illustrated the whole thing with a picture from Night of the Hunter - the scene where Robert Mitchum shows the words 'love' and 'hate' written on his knuckles.

#428 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 09:16 PM:

#426: She could have done that interview with the CEO of Throwing Kittens in a Wood Chipper, Inc., whispering in her ear as she spoke, and they would still have loved her.

Remember the SubGenius mottos:

"Act like a dumbfuck and they'll treat you like an equal."

"You'll pay us to tell you what you really think!"

#429 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2010, 11:39 PM:

OPEN THREADNESS: Geaux Saints! Who Dat? Who You With?

Which is the only time in the history of the world, my dears, I will have ever cared about football.

Between the disasterous conclusion of trying to get a dear friend's daughter out of Haiti, and fears of what is happening to her, and a whole bunch of related things, this helped. Also we received some good phone calls, right after the bad part of the third quarter, that gave us good advice of something more I, meaning ME, can do to help with our friends' daughters' situation. And then other good news after that.

This day ended better than most of it.

Love, C.

#430 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 12:49 AM:

#426: I saw the video. My GAWD.

There's also this story, with close-ups of her hand, showing her talking points:

Palin's Tea Party Crib Notes

"Energy," "BudgetTax Cuts," and "Lift American Spirits."

I can't wait for John Stewart to chew on this.

#431 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 01:00 AM:

Stefan #430:

That's just odd. I mean, having notes for a speech is nothing weird at all. But four or five words scribbled on her hand? WTF?

It's not bad, exactly, just really odd.

#432 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 06:23 AM:

So much for their making fun of Obama using a teleprompter.

#433 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 11:14 AM:

That's the $100,000 palm pilot.

#434 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 01:17 PM:

Well, not that I ever had any doubts before, but it's definitive: she sure as hell hasn't read Twain.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 02:25 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 434... Never the Twain shall meet. Still, it sounds like an interesting premise for a story. (Remember the ST-TNG holodeck having Enstein and Hawking chatting with Data and Newton?) Sam Clemens may have made fun of Democrats, but I think that what he'd say about the Republican Party's current presidential wannabe would not be fit for airing on national TV.

#436 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Lee @ 413: MLA style is that ellipses within original material should be spaced out, thus . . . while ellipses indicating deleted material should be close together, thus ... . I prefer to take the optional extra step of enclosing ellipses for deleted material in brackets [...] to eliminate any possibility of confusion.

#437 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Serge -- given what Mr. Clemens had to say about snake oil salesmen, his remarks about contemporary events and people would surely be a thing of wonder..

#438 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Debbie @ 437... Ah, the kind of sarcasm that could burn a hole thru plasteel... Should he turn it against la Rouge, there'd be a flash of light then nothing but a very tiny pile of ashes.

#439 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 04:52 PM:

It's a really nice reminder about the nature of our political system, right? This lady came within a few percent of the votes/one big scandal at the last minute of being the VP to a very old man who's lived a hell of a hard life. She could still find herself in a position of enormous power in this country. This isn't a one in a million shot, this is like a one in ten or one in twenty shot.

There's this natural wish to imagine that the powerful are wise, or smart, or at least competent. But they aren't. Our political mechanisms don't necessarily bring the wise, smart, or competent to power. Nor do those mechanisms offer incentives for people to behave as wisely, intelligently, or competently as they are able. We face the consequences of that every damned day.

I don't know what will have to change to fix this. Perhaps it's unfixable. But after awhile, it becomes impossible to hold onto the hope that incompetent and evil people in power are some kind of aberration. They're not--they're a big chunk of the distribution. And that's even scarier than considering Palin as a potential presidential candidate.

#440 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Constance, #429, that's great!

albatross, #439, she sure doesn't look wise in the FOIA emails from her husband. It looks like he's running a lot of the government, plus trying to figure out how to make personal things look governmental.

#441 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 07:37 PM:

The Burj Dubai building particle;

I say all the pictures of it look like they aren't real.

They look like cover paintings, complete with vast areas of sky to put typeset copy on.

#442 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2010, 10:09 PM:

Damn. Just found out that William Tenn/Phil Klass died.

His "The Liberation of Earth", read back when I was ten, was one of a small number of stories which woke me up to what SF could be.

#443 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 03:10 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale@412, thanks to you, B, and the Internet Archive folks for hosting yet another enjoyable party.

The Internet Archive's new building is a former Christian Science church just south of the Presidio in San Francisco, and a number of people commented that they'd obviously bought it because it looks like their logo. Brewster gave a tour of the place, including their scanning room that's one of ~20 around the world scanning about 1000 books a day that are in the public domain.

#444 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 05:21 AM:

Serge @424, that explains a lot about the English translation of The Day of the Dolphin.

The one which I read in the Seventies, that is. I assumed there was something a bit odd about the style of writing of the original: that Franch has something that functions as a quotation mark.

I don't recall it ever being explained at school by the teacher of the French language. But he'd pitched cobblestones at the CRS and wrote poetry.

The nearest I came to reading French fictional narative was Asterix the Gaul and a couple of copiues of Metal Hurlant (accent marks misremembered) I picked up in a side-street bookshop in Grimsby, near the docks. (A few months later it was busted for selling porn.)

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 06:02 AM:

Dave Bell @ 444... A few months later it was busted for selling porn

Events later recounted in Asterix in the Gaol?

I was used to the French typographical convention, since that's what I had grown up with, but when I discovered the Anglophone convention, I fell in love with it. For one thing, it felt so much more active, so much more like a real conversation would be. After all, who talks with all those pauses - aside from William Shatner?

#446 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 06:53 AM:

Actually, the FBI was "Mirandizing" people long before it was called that. When the infamous decision came down, sane people pointed out that the FBI and the better police departments had been advising suspects of their rights all along.

#447 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Open threadiness: if you haven't read the personal ads in the London Review of Books, you're missing out.

#448 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 10:33 AM:

OT: I hate to blow my own trumpet, but the computer game version of Dante's "Divine Comedy", predicted on this site in 2007, has now been released.

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 10:59 AM:

ajay @ 448... I read about that on another site a couple of weeks ago. One woman then suggested that maybe the next thing would be Milton being given the X-men treatment, an idea she found ridiculous until I suggested that lots of people wouldn't mind seeing Hugh Jackman as Milton.

#450 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 12:42 PM:

At least Paradise Lost has a bit of action in it. Especially Book VI. (Satan constructs enormous siege engines to fight God! But Michael destroys them by chucking mountains at them!)
I'm just not sure how you make a good game out of the Divine Comedy. Dante doesn't do anything in the Inferno, he just watches stuff. And if you have him trying to beat various challenges in order to get from level to level in Purgatory, then it turns into Dante Kong.

#451 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 01:11 PM:

albatross #439: But after awhile, it becomes impossible to hold onto the hope that incompetent and evil people in power are some kind of aberration.

Because they aren't -- looking at history, and even mythology that's exactly the usual failure mode of government! At the moment, we're barely a year from the reign of a full-fledged "King of Misrule", and Obama (our new "Sun Child") is still dealing with not only the neocon bullies, but Stockholm-smitten Democrats as well.

#452 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 01:20 PM:

Ajay #450: Oh, they just replaced the whole plot -- Dante is now a knight chasing Lucifer to reclaim the soul of his beloved Beatrice.

#453 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 02:14 PM:

#449 Serge

Jacqueline Carey's two volume The Sundering duology -- Banewreaker and Godslayer -- have a great deal of Miltonian aether about them. They are very good, also.

Love, C.

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Constance @ 453... And there was Brust's To Reign in Hell.

#455 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Bruce@390: Magazine versions of a lot of SF are unexpectecly in the public domain in the USA, due to lack of renewal of the copyright. When it was published as a book the authors generally considered that the preferred and main version, and didn't bother with paperwork and fees to renew copyright on the magazine version.

Hence the original magazine version of Doc Smith's The Skylark of Space (very different from the 1960s paperback version) on Gutenberg. Also Skylark Three, which is not nearly so different.

#456 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 05:02 PM:

nine levels with a boss fight on each level?

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 05:48 PM:

South Dakota reservations snowbound, desperate, people dying.

... and the ONLY media coverage it's getting has all been kick-started by Daily Kos. Is it okay for me to hope for Rupert Murdoch's karmic debt all to land on him at once?

#458 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Pendrift 447: do those things work/

#459 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Erik Nelson @458: Personals editor David Rose mentions a wedding of a couple who met through an ad, so it's worked at least once. I don't see why they wouldn't work the way other personal ads do, actually. If anything, you'd get a better glimpse of someone's sense of humor from the LRB ones.

#460 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 08:31 PM:

What I'm finding is that someone, either at Aldiko, Project Gutenberg, or at Distributed Proofreaders can't spell worth a damn and has pretty poor reading comprehension when it comes to the Dr. Thorndyke novels. If any of Fragano's students wants to pick up some pin money doing copyediting, there's a job out there waiting... I'd go into detail but it's just depressing.

#461 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 08:46 PM:

#454 Serge

I haven't read Brust's To Reign in Hell since it hasn't come my way, but -- VERY LARGE BUT!!!!! -- we're supposedly going to be creamed by humongous snowstorm here tomorrow, and I have Iorich -- which I've chastely ignored for days, and even tonight (which I'm spending ALONE for spouse is at Duke, so I get even more points), saving for just this this kind of imprisonment.

Love, C.

#462 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 08:53 PM:

#457 Lee

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.

[Wait -- I haven't lived there since I was able to escape at age 17. Escape was the operative action word ... this before cable, before internet, which of course, the prevailing religious ruling class also rules there.]

The Dakotas are really not part of the U.S. in so many ways, sez she who grew up out there -- meaning nobody pays us any attention, unless it's something Really Special.

But we bring enormous amounts of what you eat to your table, ultimately.

And some of the rest of the world.

The rezes -- they've been ignored and exploited since day one.

Love, C.

#463 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 09:15 PM:

ajay @448: I had a similar notion for a video game, which would have been titled Where In Hell is Carmen Sandiego?

#464 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2010, 11:46 PM:

Lee #457: Why am I remembering a certain scene early in the Sandman series, involving the loss of a protective amulet?

#465 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 12:32 AM:

Depressing open-threadiness:

The Obama administration apparently holds that it has the power to murder US citizens without any oversight at all, as this Greenwald post discusses. This was discussed on Democracy Now today, as well. If the Bush administration's claim of power w.r.t. Jose Padilla was grounds for impeachment[1], then so is this.

This falls in with the pattern of this administration, which has made it absolutely clear that nobody important will ever see the inside of a courtroom for torturing or murdering prisoners, or for spying on Americans. Perhaps not even for murdering Americans.

I no longer have any faith that electing Democrats can change the direction in which our country is moving. I wish to God I did. These policies will be the far-left edge of the Overton window, when the next Republican is in office. "Even the far-left Obama administration agreed that...."

I have no idea where we go from here. Probably nowhere good.

[1] I think it was. The Bush Administration had a US citizen seized on US soil and thrown into a deep, dark hole with no trial and no oversight. There are good reasons to believe Padilla was tortured in captivity, but I don't know of any proof. The previous administration claimed the power to declare US citizens enemy combatants and have them disappeared. The current administration claims the power to declare them enemy combatants and have them assassinated--perhaps while sitting in their homes or driving in their cars, far from anything remotely resembling a battlefield. Why is the first more wrong than the second?

#466 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 01:53 AM:

The current trendy euphemism is "unprivileged enemy belligerent".

#467 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 03:02 AM:

Open threadiness: Germans not liking the Google StreetView car. (video, language NSFW)

According to this article, it's due to privacy concerns. (Dutch)

#468 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 07:19 AM:

Bruce wrote @ 460

"What I'm finding is that someone, either at Aldiko, Project Gutenberg, or at Distributed Proofreaders can't spell worth a damn and has pretty poor reading comprehension when it comes to the Dr. Thorndyke novels."

*Perk*

This moose has quite a number of original hardcovers (being rather partial to those stories), and most of the rest in recently reprinted paperbacks. I will have to investigate further. (Not sure what's required of a copyeditor/prufreeda though.)

#469 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 08:50 AM:

abi @467 -- nope, many Germans aren't happy about StreetView at all. My city is trying to charge Google a fee. It'll be interesting to see how (if) that works.

#470 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 01:06 PM:

Debbie #469: nope, many Germans aren't happy about StreetView at all. My city is trying to charge Google a fee. It'll be interesting to see how (if) that works.

If Google had a big overlap in their board of directors with Amazon, they'd probably retaliate against the city by removing it from Google Maps entirely (leaving a virtual Chernobylesque hole in the map, here there be dragons), and removing all web links that can be geotraced to the town from Google search results; then they'd follow up with a demand that Google be paid for the "service" of violating the privacy of the town's citizens with Google street view truck cameras. Then they'd escalate to removing all mention of Germany from all of their legion of services, just like Paypal did to India recently.

#471 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I have just written about The Inchoate Reviews of Google Books.

There's a certain beauty to these. They're unearthed by a blind, unconscious, inarticulate robot, yet they bring resonances to the human reader's mind, and spark the imagination. There ought to be a way to make a game, or a poem-like object, or something, out of them.

#472 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Earl@470: I'm solidly with Google, not the Germans who feel that way, on this one. There is not, and there should not be, any reasonable expectation of privacy against being seen by a truck driving down the public street. That's an absurd view, which would also happen to make my hobby largely impossible if taken seriously.

#473 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 02:57 PM:

In my local paper today: ex-soldier charged with waterboarding his 4-year-old daughter.

He bragged that it was effective in teaching her to recite her ABCs.

#474 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 02:57 PM:

DD-B @ 472: It's a matter of degree, and of a change in degree of observation-by-others that was not initiated, or concurred in, by the locals. That's what's disconcerting to them, and produces howls of outrage -- not so much the fact of change, but the degree, and especially the unilateral imposition by "outsiders". (Hmmmmm, where have we encountered that before?)

Google Maps (including Streetview) is hardly the Panopticon, but some people clearly believe it represents a long stride in that direction, and don't like the idea. You (and I) may think such reactions are excessive, but that doesn't make the associated beliefs any less real.

On the legal and philosophical fronts, this topic takes us into areas with few obvious breakpoints -- degrees of public observation which are clearly separable from one another. Rather, there is a pretty smooth continuum of increasing public visibility of a subject's activities, from the random casual glances of individual passers-by, to monitored and recorded 24/7/365 video surveilance of every location that is not actually inside a private dwelling. (And don't forget to keep the doors shut and curtains drawn.)

Once again, technological advances make it necessary for us (our society) to have some very awkward conversations about where to draw lines between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" behaviors. And as usual, the range of "acceptable" will be extended, with the usual kicking and screaming, to include the newly identified portions of "can't be prevented".

ObSF: Isaac Asimov, "The Dead Past"; T.L. Sherred, "E for Effort".

#475 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 03:03 PM:

I'm wondering if they understand that Google Streetview isn't live, or updated even monthly (more like yearly).
Also, Google blurs out the faces of people (and, in one instance that I saw, the picture of a person's face on a banner).

#476 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Leroy@474: While some areas will be more covered than others, visitors and tourists passing through snap pictures everywhere, and I don't see that as being any different from the Google Street view truck. I'm an outsider most places I go to take pictures. And an awful lot of people put their photos on Flickr. More and more cameras are including GPS chips to automatically tag the location.

I'm not sure where the line is between the video cameras on every light pole constantly recording, and a guy walking by and snapping his shutter, but I'm pretty sure that a truck that drives through at most every few years is on the "guy walking by" side of the line.

I don't think any meaningful privacy is gained by stopping one particular one-picture-every-few-years survey of any given area. I don't think it's right to forbid random picture-taking in public, or the posting of those pictures. So I think Google street view is just fine (you can see my old car out in front of my house, last I checked).

#477 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 03:53 PM:

DD-B @ 476: We are, I think, in vigorous agreement, particularly about where Google's current activities fall in relation to a very blurry and constantly shifting line.

Sometimes, one of the first steps in persuading someone to accept an unpleasant-to-them change can be to publicly acknowledge that the other person's concerns are based on understandable reasons. Then, if possible, show how the disconcerting new development is really just a modest change in degree, and not really inconsistent with the other person's underlying values and world-view. This can be an annoyingly slow process, but at least provides an option, in principle, to more drastic forms of social upheaval.

#478 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Leroy@477: The thing is, from my POV their position is so loony that I'm at some pains to avoid giving it any shred of credence or support. They're proposing a drastic upheaval to the law that would have horrible consequences (making it illegal to photograph policemen misbehaving, for example; it's the general right to photograph in public that gives us that).

#479 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:23 PM:

David and Leroy:

They're uncomfortable at the feeling that their civic life is going to be visible to the wider world. It's one thing for your house to be visible to anyone who takes the trouble to walk by. It's another thing for it to be visible to someone who happens to find a photo that's got the relevant geographical data. And it's yet one more thing for all that to be pulled together, indexed, and presented to the viewer with no effort at all.

This bounces off of Clay Shirky's point about information and filters. People's privacy was based around the inconvenience of getting the information to compromise it. As that inconvenience has been eroded by technology, people feel exposed.

On a more general basis, I find dismissing people's arguments out of hand, when all you've heard of them has been thirdhand, fairly inadequate as an intellectual exercise. Why not start from the basis that they're rational and see what their concerns are, then figure out if they cross your desired rights? Then figure out which should matter more?

I'm actually quite vexed at this turn of conversation, because much of it is driven by a kind of provincialism of American and techie culture, which basically assumes that any objections that American techies don't agree with can be dismissed out of hand. Living among non-Americans and non-techies, I find this arrogant and unproductive.

#480 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:31 PM:

DD-B, Leroy, Earl, and all -- my personal opinion is that Google will eventually win this one. Too many Germans enjoy too many interactive services and social networks these days that it seems unlikely that one corner of the net would be cornered off.

That said, it's been interesting to me to observe how serious Germans are about their privacy, particularly with regard to institutions and companies exchanging data. There have been big brouhahas over the census, for example, which predated the internet.

In some ways this* all reminds me of the Amish approach to technology -- they're not necessarily agin' it, but they take their time weighing pros and cons before adopting something.

*general approach to information privacy

#481 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:34 PM:

I'm wondering what happens if (or when) those complaining find out how useful street view can be for finding things that don't show up in aerial views or on street maps, that they might need (or want) to find fast.
Or, more simply, when you're going someplace for the first time, you might want to know the local landmarks so you won't get lost so easily.

#482 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:36 PM:

abi@479: Since I said it in #478, and you don't mention it, am I to assume that you don't think it's important to be able to photograph police misbehaving? Or that you don't think it's hard to protect that except as part of a general right to photograph in public?

Because if you DO consider those to be relevant points (not necessarily enough to settle the case, just relevant), then I have to be a bit vexed at your attributing my position simply to insular American techie culture. I not only think my position is based on more than that, I've specified some of the details already. (I've also lived in Zurich for two non-consecutive years, and am near the edge of being ineligible to donate blood due to amount of time spent in England, and listen to the BBC a lot more than to Fox news.) Similarly, your suggestion that all I know about the topic is what I've heard in the immediately preceding thread is incorrect, and somewhat insulting. This is of course a big issue throughout the photographic community, and is being widely discussed by people all over the world, and I've been listening to a lot of those discussions.

#483 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:44 PM:

DDB @482:

The person photographing police misconduct is on a different place in the individual effort/invasiveness curve than Google Street View preserving forever, and displaying to the world, that one's house needed painting and lawn mowing on that particular day. One does not lead directly to the other; indeed, someone concerned about the pantopticon society might find your conflation of the two rather strange.

I'm sorry if telling you that you are prioritizing your values over others' to such a degree that you sound provincial and arrogant bugs you. My suggestion would be to find a way to approach the matter that doesn't sound condescending.

Maybe we come out at your place on the spectrum. I tend to. But I also know that to elide the process of understanding and addressing the concerns of the other side, to say their position is so loony that I'm at some pains to avoid giving it any shred of credence or support, is not actually helpful.

#484 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:58 PM:

I think the Google street view controversy falls under the heading of "it stops being funny* when it starts being you". I know I had a brief qualm when I saw my house on Google street view, but I had no problems with seeing other houses or buildings.

* or cute or useful or harmless

#485 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Abi@483: Consider the Overton window. I really don't want to let that start to look "normal"; it's very, very dangerous.

What, other than a general right to take photos in public, do you think protects my taking photos of policemen misbehaving?

The Google streetview pictures aren't particularly permanent, they update them every few years (at least so far). Somebody might grab a copy to keep, but that's equally true of any snapshot posted on Flickr.

I believe that the concerns of the other side consist very largely of a complete misunderstanding of the current rules.

#486 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:04 PM:

PJEvans@481: Yes, and businesses start seeing a measurable decline in business from people outside the neighborhood, because people won't go somewhere they can't check out a head of time. This does seem likely.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the anti-streetview people think it's somehow realtime.

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:06 PM:

DDB @485:

The way to avoid that becoming the new normal is not to sneer or dismiss, but to persuade. You cite the Overton Window; let me, without implying that these Germans are engaged in similar things, cite tea parties and defiant subcultures with persecution complexes as an example of what I think we should act to avoid.

I believe that the concerns of the other side consist very largely of a complete misunderstanding of the current rules.

I believe your dismissal of them consists very largely of a complete misunderstanding of the current customs, particularly the local customs of their culture. Which are stronger and stickier than rules, and cannot be changed by fiat.

Those customs also exist for good historical reasons. Why, do you think, would Germans be cautious about too much data being collected and collated about them?

#488 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:06 PM:

DD-B @485:

There's also this little bit from abi's earlier reply, to wit:

It's another thing for it to be visible to someone who happens to find a photo that's got the relevant geographical data. And it's yet one more thing for all that to be pulled together, indexed, and presented to the viewer with no effort at all.

It's that Big Brother aspect that separates it from sites like Flickr, and it's what people find creepy.

#489 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:13 PM:

DDB @486:

I strongly suspect that a lot of the anti-streetview people think it's somehow realtime.

Again with the insulting assumptions, this time of stupidity and ignorance. These are educated, sophisticated and intelligent people who use the same facts as you have to, run them through a different culture, and come to a different conclusion.

The inability to believe that other people can possibly live a different way than you, have different priorities, make different choices, and still be right? That's provincialism, no matter how many years you've lived where.

#490 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:15 PM:

abi @ 479 et. seq.: Then there's this report from Norway . . .

#491 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:17 PM:

Pendrift@488: I did mention the increasing number of cameras that contain GPS and geotag their photos (including cell-phone cameras).

My going to their particular point on the map and activating streetview is already a considerable effort. I will not see their house if I do not make an effort to go there; it's not presented to me in any way automatically. Furthermore, if for some reason I DO get there "at random" -- it won't mean anything to me, it'll never intersect their life that I looked.

And the street view is pretty much random; they go by when they go by. People's snapshots are of things they think are of some interest -- already selected.

#492 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:24 PM:

abi@489: I suspect it because of the things they say about the images. It's not an assumption on my part, it's an inference about some individuals, and then a suspicion that that conclusion applies to more than the individuals who provided the evidence.

(Just verified that clicking submit is one of the best ways to make typos suddenly visible. Luckily with the preview stage I get a chance to fix them :-)).

#493 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Steve #484:

I had a brief qualm too, but I suspect yours stemmed from an entirely different reason: The street view of my house is stitched together right in the middle of the living room window, only it's nowhere near a perfect join.

We just got an up-to-date aerial view of our development, and we've all been having fun dating it. I can do a pretty good job, because it was done right after the second-story framing went in on the lot two down, but before the roofing went on.

A couple of years ago, I used some heavy-duty Google Earth homework (no street view for what I was doing) to impress the hell out of my mother when we visited a town I hadn't been in for forty years. She'd been there a lot more recently and had no idea of how to find anything, including places we'd lived; I didn't get lost. Missed a couple of turns, but I knew where I was. Just plain street maps, no photography, wouldn't have helped near as much.

#494 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:28 PM:

DD-B @491: Yes, but some people just.don't.want.it. Is it logical? Not necessarily. Does it reflect a misunderstanding of the technology? Sometimes -- the internet may as well be magic to many who use it -- but by no means always.

Google's other features such as Google Earth and that tagging feature for map locations where people submit photos and text (can't remember the name) have certainly been embraced here, which is why I ultimately think StreetView will go through, too. At the same time, the skepticism with regard to information collection goes deep, and given the leaks and abuses that occur daily, it's not totally without substance.

#495 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:33 PM:

DDB @491:

My mother took a photo of my house. PNH was looking at my house on Google StreetView, and noticed that there was a user photo from there, and asked me if I knew who [one of my mother's web names] was. I did, in this case, and I don't mind that he now knows that that ID is associated with my family.

But you'll note that I haven't put my address or my mother's web name into this post, because I don't particularly want someone who gets mad at me for something I say on the internet to track me down, threaten my kids (whom I described, in a published book, as going to the play park down the street unaccompanied), or paint graffiti on my walls. It's not hard to get my house number and town name already, and all this stuff connects up more and more. That's an uncomfortable thought for me, as a nice, stalkable woman.

My security through obscurity is being eroded, and a Google StreetView car is a part of that.

And what of the houses where the wrong car happened to be in the driveway on that day, if you know what I mean? Or some other evidence of wrongdoing or shame? It's now preserved forever*, visible to everyone who clicks through to see how that person's house came out.

So how long before we get good image recognition, good enough to search for a menorah† in the window, index the addresses, and plot driving routes from any malefactor's house?

It's not simple. It's not just that everyone's uncurtained front window must be visible so that you can take a photo of a misbehaving cop. And acting like it is that simple is patronizing and ineffective.

-----
* Yes, they refresh it, but this is the internet. Things don't go away.
† Or rainbow flags, or Turkish flags, like the one in the window across the way, or any sign or marker of membership in a minority group?

#496 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:39 PM:

My mom freaked out a bit when she found our house on Street View. It's years old-- we've since removed the basketball hoop and her garden's more spectacular-- but I understand where she's coming from. She doesn't like not being able to control information about herself, and she-- and I-- has trouble coming up with any reasons for people to find where she lives and see a picture of the house. It's not like people can't find out with a trivial amount of effort, but the picture makes it different from the phone book or even satellite view. I think part of it comes from the fact that my parents are both teachers and thus live a little more in public than they might-- if the house is egged, and it has been, it's students against a teacher. Anyone who could legitimately want Street View of the house could just as easily call her and ask for pictures.

I'm okay with being able to show off Mom's garden, but if Google made an opt-out on Street View somehow, I'd probably help remove the house because it bugs her.

#497 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:46 PM:

495
But those things only matter to those who know that it's the wrong car in the driveway, or who care that the lawn might have been unmowed that day. Which is to say: the nosier neighbors, not strangers.

The casual viewer, like me, isn't going to know that it's the 'wrong car', or that the lawn should have been mowed two days ago. And probably won't care, either.
(Also, the pictures might be poor quality due to weather, lighting, or the camera lenses needing a good cleaning. Just saying.)

#498 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 05:55 PM:

PJ Evans @497:
But those things only matter to those who know that it's the wrong car in the driveway, or who care that the lawn might have been unmowed that day. Which is to say: the nosier neighbors, not strangers.

Or family. Or friends. Or the divorce lawyer, the blackmailer, the neighborhood gossip. Don't underestimate the impact of your peripheral group knowing private information that you had not intended to release. Nor—and this is a cultural thing, one that many Germans and Dutch would identify with—the mortification of knowing that your lapses in housekeeping are preserved on the internet.

You can make a call about whether or not those things would bug you. But it's not necessarily realistic to project or impose your comfort zone onto others.

Analogy. I grew up in a subculture that was very casual about social nudity. I've been naked in front of colleagues and bosses, and they've seen me naked. I'm entirely comfortable with this. Would you be? Would you be if you were the only [man/woman] in the group and everyone in the situation was heterosexual? I mean, it's not like they're necessarily going to be sexually interested in you, so does it really matter if they've seen your bits?

#499 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Debbie@494: I don't have any real quarrel with the people who "just don't want it". Well, I suppose if it's actually based on a misunderstanding of the technology I do; but if it's JUST that they just don't want it, that's a personal preference, to which they are every bit as entitled as I am to mine. I'll still work for them to lose this one, but it's nothing personal.

Abi@495: Sure, the wrong car in the driveway could be bad. Except -- what kind of idiot, doing "wrong car" sorts of things, parks it in the driveway? Because anybody looking out the window from a neighbor's house, or driving by, could see that.

What I really object to is the (apparent) belief that it's somehow safe to park your car in your lover's driveway, if the relationship is supposed to be a secret. It's NOT safe, and Google street view doesn't change the risks very much at all.

Diatryma@496: Heck, I'd help my mother, or a friend, or whoever, do the hypothetical opt-out, if I couldn't convince them otherwise.

A bunch of the discussion of GSV I hear is people pointing out cool things, and showing people their house, and so forth. That's the side I like, of course.

I do take issue with your concept of "anybody who could legitimately want streetview", though. The sort of thing I've actually used it for (instead of just playing around, looking at things for fun) is to note what a block looks like in preparation for not getting lost when I drive through there and have to turn at the next intersection, and such. And while, on the one hand, the absence of one house doesn't necessarily ruin that use (depending on exactly where relative to my turn, how memorable and recognizable compared to other houses nearby, etc.), I do call that a legitimate use, and I couldn't in fact call you and ask for pictures, since I wouldn't know it was actually your house that was on the block before my turn (even assuming you would give them to me for that, which is a side issue to this discussion).

Back to Abi again; People flying a rainbow, Turkish, or Palestinian flag, or putting a Menorah in the window, seem to me like they're not trying to hide their identity; those are all deliberate public displays. Sure, bad guys could use that for targeting (with some hypothetical upgrades to access and image-recognition; I agree that that's something people's thinking should include as possible, even likely, fairly soon); but they're much more likely to target people they already know about and run into (and get annoyed by) regularly.

At base, I suspect it's an issue of tactical preference. Some people seem to have "Hide" as their primary tactical reaction, some don't (I certainly include it, along with "run like hell", in the list of useful tactical options). It's probably a fairly basic bit of automatic thinking / assumption, by the time someone is adult. And either because I'm predestined to, or else because, thinking things through, I have reached a rational conclusion, I don't think it's a very good primary choice.

#500 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 06:43 PM:

498
Oh, the housekeeping lapses had crossed my mind - I know about that attitude.

I'm not sure that the 'social nudity' stuff comes in though: remember, this view is what everyone can see who drives by your house. So it's already public in that way.
That's why I'm slightly discombobulated by this attitude: the view of the yard is already there, it's just the size of the audience is different. I don't particularly want to see places that belong to total strangers, although I'll admit to having 'driven' some of the streets in the village that some of my people came from (I doubt that anything there is old enough to have been there then).

#501 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 07:05 PM:

There aren't many cheerful SF stories about a world in which everything is known, are there? There's "I See You" by Damon Knight and "The Dying Past" by Isaac Asimov. Not happy stories.

It amazes me how easily people go, "Oh, Google! How wonderful! What is it?"

#502 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 08:26 PM:

DD-B, 499: You, a large man, don't think "hide" is a good tactical choice for an adult. May I remind you of the anonymous "awful families" thread? Your experience is not the same as that of, e.g., a smallish woman. You're giving me the impression that you think your way is the only right way for people to be.

#503 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 10:07 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 499:

People flying a rainbow, Turkish, or Palestinian flag, or putting a Menorah in the window, seem to me like they're not trying to hide their identity; those are all deliberate public displays. Sure, bad guys could use that for targeting (with some hypothetical upgrades to access and image-recognition; I agree that that's something people's thinking should include as possible, even likely, fairly soon); but they're much more likely to target people they already know about and run into (and get annoyed by) regularly.

If you decide to put some sort of identifying symbol in your window or on your door, you've probably decided that the local area is safe. When I was religious, I had no qualms about putting a mezuzah up, because I never lived anywhere where that would be a problem. Google Streetview makes things global.

Sure, right now it's a right pain to search through all those images, and not everything shows up on them. But it's not as if bigots with mischief on their minds only go after people they know.

Now, I happen to like streetview. I, personally, in my usage of it, don't have any problems with it at the moment. I don't think we're at a technological level yet where it can be used for really detailed, organized harm. However, it does change privacy considerations in a way that a tourist snapping photos of a neighborhood does not.

#504 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 10:09 PM:

P J @ 500: this view is what everyone can see who drives by your house. So it's already public in that way.
That's why I'm slightly discombobulated by this attitude: the view of the yard is already there, it's just the size of the audience is different.

I used to think of it that way too.

Then I realized that the larger audience is not just a matter of scale. There's something qualitatively different as well. If somebody walks down the sidewalk with their camera and takes a picture of my house, I can see who it is if I look out at the right time. I can even take their picture myself -- tit for tat. In the pre-internet days, nobody but their close family and friends would see the pictures they took.

But the Google Streetview audience is not just bigger, it's more anonymous. I don't know who is watching and I can't watch back. It is no longer a more-or-less symmetrical relationship.

DD-B (and I'll oversimplify for the sake of contrast) classes Streetview as more like Flickr snapshots than surveillance cameras because it is updated at random infrequent intervals rather than in real time. But I think Streetview is more like CCTV surveillance because of the anonymopus and potentially large audience.

#505 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 10:36 PM:

504
It's hard for me to see that, because so much of it is a year or more old - I can date some of the ones around here, because they've been updated. Others I can date approximately because I'm looking at the for stuff that I see at work on paper. Some of the aerial stuff is several years old.

One treat that you can do with Streetview, though, is to drive what I refer to as 'the little camera car' over, say, Tioga Pass in Yosemite. (Right now the pass is physically closed, and has been since the beginning of November, so you can't go there at all. Except in this one way.)

Note that I'm not interested in looking at people's yards, or their lives, so much as what's out in or near the street, because I use it mostly at work. (Also there are a lot of areas, even very urban ones, that still haven't been covered. It frustrates me when I need to see something that's fifty yards down that way, from where the camera was. Or on the other side of the eight-lane street.) What I use it for at home is 'what does this part of the country look like?' or, sometimes, 'I need to stand out front and look across the fields for a while.' (Yes, that is the view from the house my parents had. Turn around and see the house.)

#506 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 11:25 PM:

PJ Evans #500:

Collecting stuff that could be seen by passers by, and making it available more widely, can have a huge impact on privacy.

Let's imagine a future Google service which tracks all my movements through public spaces. For privacy reasons, they never reveal my movements inside my house or office, or even inside a private business. Everything revealed by that service is also information that could be seen by normal people standing on the public roads and sidewalks. Those people might individually have taken my picture, written down my license plate number and the time, etc. It's all stuff that happened in the open. Is there really no issue with collecting it all together and making it available to anyone who wants to know it?

That kind of service would be incredibly intrusive and nasty. I don't think it's that hard to think of other similarly nasty services with the same property[1]. For that reason, I agree with Allen Beaty--it's not enough to deal with a privacy issue to simply point out that all the data was in principle viewable by the public before it was collected and made easily accessible.

[1] How about a services that provides a list of all purchases you've made in public in the last year, where other customers could have seen what you bought? How about a service that identifies the names and addresses of everyone who attended each major political rally, speech, or protest in the last year?

#507 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 11:29 PM:

DDB @499: Some people seem to have "Hide" as their primary tactical reaction

Did you watch the German video? A few guys reacted to the presence of Google's camera car by dropping their pants and flipping the bird. That seems like an odd form of hiding.

PJ Evans @505, one of the things I use it for is to check out places I'm planning to go, so I'll know them by sight when I get there.

#508 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2010, 11:46 PM:

Allen Beatty @ 504:

Yes. "Quantity has a quality all its own." For instance, database queries which individually only provide aggregate data can often be used in combination to infer individual information. And the more information there is, the more likely that any given person will be an outlier in some dimension, and easy to detect that way. Also remember that knowledgeable black hats don't use technology in the same way that average users, even sophisticated ones, do, so unless you're one yourself, don't judge vulnerabilities by what you would do.

#509 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:14 AM:

Ooooooooooopen threadiness:

I spent part of this afternoon cleaning up my Picassa photo library, and uploading some photos to the web. At one point I stopped to examine the results of a new feature in Picassa 3: the software scans your photos in the background looking for faces, and creates a folder of candidate thumbnails with a name field you can fill in.

Scanning down through the thumbnails, I found a few odd ones. Some where not the faces of people: there was a bas relief and a statue in there. When it finishes scanning I'll have to see if it found any gargoyles on the churches I photographed in Cambridge (Mass) and New Orleans. But there were some very noisy, dark low contrast images, probably pulled out of the background and magnified considerably. And one of those was so noisy that the face looked disfigured, and had a bad case of red-eye. In fact, it looked like a demon from a horror movie.

So here's an idea for a horror story; I doubt I'll be writing it any time soon, so I give it to anyone who wants it. Suppose you saw a face like that in your Picassa thumbnails, and when you clicked to view the containing photo, that face wasn't there? And suppose Picassa kept finding it in other photos, but on inspection it wasn't in those photos either?

#510 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:21 AM:

506
Ain't going there. Period.

For one thing, that's not at all what I'm talking about. Not collecting license plates, nor anything else like that. Not interested in people's private lives, or what they're doing when the camera car drives by.

When I say stuff in or near the street, I mean in or near the street: the aerial here, and its street view, are a specific example of what I mean.)

#511 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:32 AM:

509: AUUUUGH thank you SO much for the Nightmare Fodder, Bruce! If I decide to sleep with one of the bags of driveway salt under my pillow tonight, it's ALL YOUR FAULT.

What if the thing in the photo was Pickman's model?

#512 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:48 AM:

PJ Evans @500:
I'm not sure that the 'social nudity' stuff comes in though: remember, this view is what everyone can see who drives by your house. So it's already public in that way.

It's an analogy.

Feeling that Google StreetView violates one's privacy is about one layer of control of who sees what in one's world. Controlling who sees one's naked body is another layer of privacy.

I was trying to get you to step inside the skins of people who are squicked by StreetView, because the common aversion to social nudity is as emotional and irrational a reaction as the anxiety that your house is on the internet.

#513 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:53 AM:

So here's one.

Suppose you can give Google the URL for someone's (view all by), have it do a nice name search (fuzzy for real names, to catch Jim for James and Dave for David) and a wordle, then diff that fuzzy name match and wordle with internet-wide posting profiles, perhaps adding in a fudge factor using a ML wordle to balance for the topics we discuss here.

Then it gives you back a set of probable matches, with facial photos, StreetView of houses, driving directions if you're in driving range, links to nearby hotels, and several flight search airlines with your route already pre-entered for your convenience.

Or someone can search for people they disagree with politically in their area. Wordle, diff, names, fuzzy match, picture, house, driving directions. Link to baseball bat vendors?

I find StreetView tremendously useful. I used it to figure out if the ATM across the road from the building I was going to be in in Seattle would give me cash. But I don't go around calling people who have qualms about the volume of previously difficult to obtain information now free on the web "loony". I'm quite clear on the idea that the implications of this may be much more serious, and much worse, than I foresee. My comfort level, in other words, could well be illusory.

(PS: Note that Google Buzz has its first privacy flaw. Or feature, as they prefer to call it.)

#514 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 01:02 AM:

Neural Implants!!!

http://www.embedded.com/222700766?cid=NL_embedded

ISSCC - Medtronic turns a light on brain implants
Prototype seeks alternative to electrical stimulation


By Rick Merritt
EE Times
(02/09/10, 07:37:00 PM EST)
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Medtronic has developed prototype implant that uses light to alter the behaviors of nerve cells in the human brain. The work was described in one of a handful of papers at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) seeking more refined electronic techniques to diagnose or apply therapies to neural conditions.

#515 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:03 AM:

DD-B, #499: The sort of thing I've actually used it for ... is to note what a block looks like in preparation for not getting lost when I drive through there and have to turn at the next intersection, and such.

Exactly. Whenever I go to a con or show facility where I haven't been before, I use Google Maps and Street View to check out the lay of the land beforehand. This has saved my hide more than once when there was a tricky bit of navigation. I've also used it to look up $(THAT SHOP I CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME OF), which I wanted to mention in a trip report. Found the correct block by means of a nearby landmark, and then just cruised along the street looking at shop names until I got to the right one.

OTOH, I can also see why (for example) someone who has attracted an Internet stalker from another city might be uneasy about said stalker being able to case their house online. (The cure for this, of course, is to make stalking a death-penalty offense, because that's the only thing guaranteed to stop one. A minority view, I know, but one I'm not likely to change.)

#516 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:27 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @501:

Also, Other Days, Other Eyes by Bob Shaw

#517 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 04:53 AM:

The cure for this, of course, is to make stalking a death-penalty offense, because that's the only thing guaranteed to stop one.

Guaranteed? The US has had the death penalty for murder since its foundation: murder doesn't seem to have gone away.

In general, it's not the size of the penalty that matters, but the likelyhood of being caught. A law that prevented individuals from surfing the web naked would not deter, no matter what the penalty, because there is no realistic likelyhood of the penalty being invoked.

#518 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 05:04 AM:

Those customs also exist for good historical reasons. Why, do you think, would Germans be cautious about too much data being collected and collated about them?

Maybe Google should have followed local norms and enlisted 10% of the population as Google Informers. I'm sure there are a lot of older Germans in the east of the country with the right employment history. If you market it as an Ostalgie effort, I'm sure the rest of the population would come on board.

More seriously: obviously, I'm not going to call them loonies for being uneasy about StreetView, but personally I don't see it as much of a change from the satellite images and maps already available. In fact, I find the satellite pictures more intrusive - you can see into people's gardens. All you get from StreetView is the street side.
As for the stalker point - true, but the stalker would have to know your address already, which I would think would be the really worrying bit. If I knew that my stalker knew where I lived, I don't think that his knowing what the front of my house looked like would cause me significantly more anxiety (never having been stalked, as far as I know, I'm just using my imagination here).

#519 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 05:54 AM:

I am unpleased to be liveblogging the latest in the Panopticon Society, to whit, one young nephew equipped with iPhone-like object and pointing its camera at me without informing me of this until commenting upon how silly I look...

In *my* day, we had to *work* at annoying our elders by publicly embarrassing them with candid camer shots.

#520 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 07:57 AM:

Julia Jones @519 -- that's one of the things the 110 Instamatics were good for, since they were small and unobtrusive. Polaroids gave more rapid results, but were larger and made a fairly obvious noise.

#521 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 09:04 AM:

I get a 21st-Century moment when I go to the men's locker-room at my gym. Near the shower area is a sign warning against using cell phones that are endowed with a camera. I wonder if the same sign is in the women's locker-room.

#522 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 09:22 AM:

It's pretty hard these days to find a cell phone that doesn't have a camera.

#523 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 10:07 AM:

cell phones that are endowed with a camera

Possibly you could have chosen a better verb there, Serge.

#524 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 10:50 AM:

Apparently there's a police investigation on Google re: their Streetview here in Finland. The most severe interpretation is that they are in violation of the criminal code in publishing naked pictures of people and thus causing them harm. They also don't seem to be considering the fact that Google promises to edit those out on request relevant at all.

The only thing I'm wondering about is who is going to serve the prison sentence when they sentence Google. I'm not sure if a company can be tried in criminal proceedings at all, truth be told.

Of course, it's still an investigation, and might end up dropped completely. But the sheer amount of complaints is causing local police and the data protection ombudsman's office a lot of work right now.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 10:52 AM:

Steve C @ 522... But how hard? That being said, my own cell phone isn't this well endowed.

ajay @ 523... :-)

#526 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:07 AM:

TexAnne@502: I didn't say it wasn't a good choice; in fact I specifically said it's on my list, along with "run like hell". What I said was that it's possibly not a good primary choice.

The history of people hurt by stalkers includes a couple of high-profile celebrity incidents, and all the rest were people they knew. Hiding seems to make some people feel a lot safer -- but history strongly suggests that the actual risks are from people who already know where they live, and hiding doesn't help much with those people. It looks to me like they're worrying about the wrong threat.

#527 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:19 AM:

I do agree that aggregation and indexing and such can make real differences, and differences big enough to feel like "kind" rather than "degree".

I don't think there's any real way, in any sort of open or free society, to reach the point where it's reasonably possible to stop anything like Google Street View. And I think the things it makes possible are largely beneficial, and that it's something that can be lived with. Remember the Internet Taxi? Want to make that illegal too? When people start logging their wearable computer camera output, we'll have some issues to fight over! If you start acting seriously on this view of privacy, you end up with people being afraid to take a picture even inside their house without closing all the curtains first, for fear that something might be visible out the window.

How about worrying about the government surveillance cameras in England instead? That's a much bigger invasion of privacy, and it's being done by the government rather than a private corporation. One reason it's such a big deal is that the take is private, not public, leading to an asymmetrical access situation.

#528 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:25 AM:

Serge @ 525: Possibly hard wasn't the best choice of adjectives, either…

Maybe we should snip this conversation. If it gets any longer, we might find ourselves strapped for options, with too many balls in the air.

#529 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:39 AM:

Caroline @ 528... You're right. Let's put this behind us and move on.

#530 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:40 AM:

Yeah, don't leave it dangling here.

#531 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Andy, #517: You seem to have misinterpreted my comment. Once a stalker has selected a victim, there are only 4 things which have ever been shown to stop that stalker from stalking that victim, and 3 of them are unreliable:

1) The stalker loses interest, or transfers the obsession to a new victim. Very low-probability outcome.

2) The victim runs away and hides so successfully that the stalker cannot find them again. Subject to sabotage (especially when the stalker is a family member), and unreliable especially in these days of easy information-gathering. Also requires the victim (who has done nothing wrong) to give up their identity and an established life, and to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

3) The stalker is put in prison. Works only until the stalker can convince a parole board to let them out, or until the state needs that space for more simple-possession drug offenders.

4) Either the stalker or the victim dies. And far too many times, the stalker ends up killing the victim. I'd rather see things go the other direction.

My position is not "the death penalty is a deterrent to other stalkers," but "a dead stalker can't stalk anybody any more".

#532 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Is the club for members only?

#533 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:27 PM:

abi @498: on the question of archived housekeeping issues:

Looking for my dentist's new building on Street View, I found an image with the oh-so-appealing port-a-potty charmingly displayed out front. I could see where a health-care business might be kind of twitchy about that sort of thing. But OTOH, they're a business, so social visibility to strangers is a feature, not a bug.

TexAnne @502: DD-B, 499: You, a large man, don't think "hide" is a good tactical choice for an adult. May I remind you of the anonymous "awful families" thread? Your experience is not the same as that of, e.g., a smallish woman.

Any ladies here remember the bad old days before Caller ID? When any random perv could amuse hirself by trolling the phonebook for feminine names and then calling the number and [etc.].... It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to contemplate the modern, geograpical equivalent.

On the flip side, I live in an "open records" state, which means that J. Random Anybody can learn property owner names with a phone call or a few clicks of the mouse. So GSV is not much of a stretch.

P J Evans @505: Yes, that is the view from the house my parents had.

Eek! It's flat! :-) Here's the view I grew up with. (Look west.)

albatross @506: David Brin at Denvention talked about "being spied on by AIs from the future." Gave me chills.

DD-B @526: ...but history strongly suggests that the actual risks [of stalkers] are from people who already know where they live, and hiding doesn't help much with those people.

(Lee @531 got there first but:) Except in cases where the person has moved to avoid the stalker, but the stalker can then use publicly available information to track them down. (We ran into this at the last place I worked. This is not a hypothetical.)

I'm slow to come to conclusions like this but, DD-B, it does kind of sound like you're discrediting other people's experience and perception of risk because it disagrees with your own, even when your experience is based on significantly different factors. Um...empathy fail?

#534 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Steve C @ 532... No club, no fee to dicker over.

#535 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 12:59 PM:

Jacque@533: People disagree with each other's perception and risk assessments all the time, for all sorts of reasons (certainly not limited to "empathy fail", though including it). It's a normal part of political discourse (we're discussing privacy here, clearly a political issue, right?).

I don't believe I've said anything casting doubt on other people's experience; only the conclusions they've drawn from it. Their one experience is no more definitive than my one; both of us need to take into account each other, and everybody else out there to the extent we can (I don't have time to read 6 billion reports of personal experience, for example).

To suggest that their position is privileged and cannot be challenged seems excessive to me.

In the particular case you describe -- you're making my point, to a large extent. Going off and hiding didn't work. It's quite easy to find people, even if they're being fairly careful (ask a panel of private detectives; part of me wants to yell "don't these people read detective stories"?); and, as Lee says, it's a truly huge upset to your life to even try.

Something that may make hiding a tiny bit harder is making essentially no difference. In fact, if it makes people understand more about how hard it is to hide, it's probably doing good in that it helps bring people's understanding into line with reality.

Issues of privacy, and stalkers, and Internet threats, and so forth, are an area of special interest of mine for the last several decades; an area I've thought about a lot, argued with a lot of people about, read a lot about. And one that still interests me a lot. And then it's starting to intersect with my main hobby of photography, so I've been reading even more about that area of intersection for the last decade, roughly. So it turns out I have quite a few opinions, but also I believe quite a bit of basis for them.

#536 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 01:02 PM:

531, 533: again, those are arguments for making less data available, but they're not really arguments against Street View. As far as I can see, if a stalker doesn't know where his target is, Street View won't help him find her. And if a stalker does know where his target is, Street View - a picture of the street-side of her house that's anything up to three years old - won't increase her vulnerability.

#537 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 01:19 PM:

#501, John A Arkansawyer:
There aren't many cheerful SF stories about a world in which everything is known, are there? There's "I See You" by Damon Knight and "The Dying Past" by Isaac Asimov. Not happy stories.

That last sentence makes this a bit ambiguous. Were you saying the Knight and Asimov stories were "cheerful"? Or the opposite?

I ask this because some people's reaction to Knight's "I See You" is so diametrically opposite to my own that it's always perplexed me. While Knight acknowledges the initial negative impact of the Ozo on society and people's lives, the frame of the story makes it clear that the Ozo eventually leads to a society more open, more honest, more nice than our current one.

To me, it was obvious that "I See You" is an example of utopian SF, not dystopian. Which is why, shortly after the story's publication, I was dumbfounded to see someone refer to it as "a horror story".

I would love to live in a society where the Ozo was ubiquitous and omnipresent. Give me a Magic Button to make it happen, and I'd press it without a second's hesitation.

#538 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 01:33 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 535 ...
Issues of privacy, and stalkers, and Internet threats, and so forth, are an area of special interest of mine for the last several decades; an area I've thought about a lot, argued with a lot of people about, read a lot about. And one that still interests me a lot. And then it's starting to intersect with my main hobby of photography, so I've been reading even more about that area of intersection for the last decade, roughly. So it turns out I have quite a few opinions, but also I believe quite a bit of basis for them.

... and the same can also be said for many other folk here, including myself. Having opinions and a basis for opinions does not, however, extend any sort of grounds for repeatedly claiming that the opinions and basis for opinions put forward by others are somehow less valid or invalid as compared to ones own.

#539 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Xeger@538: Well, of course not. Luckily I haven't attempted any such feat, since it's doomed to failure.

On the other hand, the consistency with which the substantive arguments I put forward are being ignored is starting to wear on me

#540 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 02:43 PM:

539
Possibly it's because they're not very good arguments? Or because we've seen them so many times already?

522
Mine has a camera, but I haven't figured out how to use it. Not in a hurry, either.

abi, I think the people you have to worry most about are your neighbors, or at least people who live in your area.
(Unless you're one of those people who puts a decal with the names of your kids in your car window, or has a license plate frame with the names fo your kids and their nickname for you. Or either, combined with an 'honor student at [school name]' sticker. All of which seem to me to be asking for trouble: lots of information that can be used in some very bad ways.)

#541 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Well, my partner seems not to be having any problem with the roads (thanks, Janet!). OTOH... it's snowing in Dallas, which is where I have to be early tomorrow morning. I'd already planned to drive up this evening, but given the weather I'm leaving NOW. GoodThoughts for not having too much trouble with bad roads and/or crazy drivers welcomed. And if anyone's planning to go to ConDFW, I'll see you there!

#542 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:01 PM:

DDB @539:
uckily I haven't attempted any such feat, ["repeatedly claiming that the opinions and basis for opinions put forward by others are somehow less valid or invalid as compared to ones own."] since it's doomed to failure.

comment 478: their position is so loony that I'm at some pains to avoid giving it any shred of credence or support
comment 472: That's an absurd view...
comment 492: It's not an assumption on my part, it's an inference about some individuals, and then a suspicion that that conclusion applies to more than the individuals who provided the evidence.
In other words, judging an entire group by its loudest and most irrational members, who—according to you—think StreetView is realtime.
comment 499: And either because I'm predestined to, or else because, thinking things through, I have reached a rational conclusion, I don't think it's a very good primary choice.
You discard without consideration the idea that your choices are rational for a [I assume] white, educated, privileged man without psychotic relatives. Your strategy may be rational for your circumstances, but it's not for everyone's.
comment 526: What I said was that it's possibly not a good primary choice.
Vide supra.
Ibid: history strongly suggests that the actual risks are from people who already know where they live, and hiding doesn't help much with those people. It looks to me like they're worrying about the wrong threat.
I presume you've made a good-quality statistical assessment of your likely need to photograph a policeman in the process of committing misconduct. Could you link to it here so I can check your actuarial work?

The consistency with which the substantive arguments I put forward are being ignored is starting to wear on me

Likewise.

We're two groups of people talking past each other. I think we've each presented our arguments and should move on.

#543 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:08 PM:

PJEvans@540: If they're so weak, it wouldn't be too much trouble to destroy them, would it?

#544 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:10 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 539 ...
Xeger@538: Well, of course not. Luckily I haven't attempted any such feat, since it's doomed to failure.
On the other hand, the consistency with which the substantive arguments I put forward are being ignored is starting to wear on me

Hm. That you're saying this suggests to me that there's clearly a disjoint somewhere along the lines between what's being written/intended, and how it's being read, since I fear that I'm reading many of your posts as being very much along the lines of "My opinions are valid and right, and yours aren't", rather than "I also have opinions around this area".

Perhaps there's a way to rephrase the discussion in a way that makes it clear that all parties have valid and reasonable concerns in their minds, without making judgements about the concerns in question[0].

[0] ... and, of course, there's inevitably the understanding that ones opinions may convince nobody, but merely add another aspect to the discussion.

#545 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Abi: We're two groups of people talking past each other. I think we've each presented our arguments and should move on.

Well, possibly. After responding to a question you ask in that very message, anyway.

Specifically -- I presume you've made a good-quality statistical assessment of your likely need to photograph a policeman in the process of committing misconduct. Could you link to it here so I can check your actuarial work?

I live in Minneapolis; we had the Republican national convention in our metro a couple of years ago, and the police got really severely overactive. Would have helped a lot to have more photos and videos of their actions. More generally, there are frequent problems with police misconduct in public around the world that make it into the news. Are you really saying this is a trivial issue and a useless way to combat it?

#546 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:15 PM:

Serge @ 534: Some thought that was junk, but they got the sack.

#547 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:21 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @545:

Thank you for some concrete idea of the impact on you.

I have never said it was trivial. What I have said, consistently, is that you are being dismissive and disrespectful of anyone whose concerns might interfere with yours. You have consistently failed to acknowledge that they could also be acting for reasons that are non-trivial to them.

#548 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:56 PM:

I can't possibly keep up with all the conversation here (well, I guess I could, but I'd need to be either unemployed or never sleep!), but I don't think I've seen this one on Making Light:

http://crooksandliars.com/suzanne-ito/new-national-security-distraction

TSA arrests traveler for having flashcards.

#549 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Caroline @ 546... they got the sack

...for the cockamaney ideas?

#550 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Cheryl @548:
No, that hasn't been mentioned here before.

But you forgot one crucial detail. These were Arabic flashcards. It's wildly unAmerican to study another language at all, much less the one in which so much of our science and mathematics were invented or preserved.

I hope that lad was given a good scare, so he never actually talks to anyone from an Arabic-speaking country. At least if he does he won't be able to tell them what a wonderful and free country America is—not with any convicti,on anyway.

(sigh)

#551 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 04:32 PM:

albatross: To be fair, this adminstration didn't promulgate that idea. It just maintains it (as it does the Padilla Doctrine).

They are both wrong.

Leroy/DDB: There is a minor/not so minor concern. I localise my photos on flickr. I intentionally move those photos which would ID the specific location of people who are identifiable in the photos.

Why? Because of stalkers, and streetview. There is a lot of mischief one can do if one has an ability to identify a house, without having to take the effort to walk the ground. That's without all of the nifty ideas abi figured out.

I'm an intel guy. I know, for a fact, that streetview is useful for that sort of thing. Ponder the "may be killed on sight" topic we are also discussing. Think how much easier the route-recon/surveillance becomes.

DDB: re the car in the driveway. It may be perfectly acceptable to park in a lover's driveway. There may be perfectly good reasons to have done so. It might be there was nothing happening (yet), the day the photo was taken. Then the context changes.

We were rebedding the rosebeds the last time google did street view. For 18 months our yard was visible with a 24" deep trench running 50'. Piles of rocks and dirt. Not the thing I really wanted to have up. The time before that, the car had a parking ticket.

#552 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Re privacy and images: And then there's the Sensecam. Lots of fun to use, but lots of privacy issues raised. It's got a fisheye lens, but people are still recognisable. The open question is where to draw the line with its use.

Therapeutically, it can be very useful in alleviating age-related memory loss (probably one of the first papers it produced), and the argument can be advanced that if you-the-person-captured were happy to meet the person wearing it, why object to their making permanent memories of the event. On the other hand, once an image is saved to a computer disk, it becomes theoretically accessible to anyone, not just the owner. On the gripping hand, if someone uses it as a life-capturing device, sudden gaps in the record are going to stand out as events of interest, worthy of further investigation.

But it'd be great for capturing police misconduct.

(Disclaimer: I worked in a group that had one, and have used one, but it wasn't my area of expertise.)

#553 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 05:20 PM:

Mike McHugh @552:

Good gracious, it really is Other Days, Other Eyes, coming to life right in front of our useful recording devices.

#554 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Terry@551: I don't get the "context changing" thing in this situation. If it was okay to park there that day, then having people know I parked there that day is okay. If it's not okay, then it wasn't okay to begin with. If my car shows there in a snapshot of the birthday party across the street, that's okay too; unless it was a bad idea to park there to begin with.

Unless you're suggesting that I decide later it's necessary to pretend I never knew the person at all? If I'm pretending that, then my car there is a problem, sure. But it's a problem, again, in any medium. Am I wrong to think that investigators would go ask the neighbors if they'd ever seen a car like mine parked in the area? If anything important was being investigated? By anybody competent? (Kind of by definition, we're not as worried about incompetent investigators finding things out, though somebody can always get lucky.)

#555 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 06:46 PM:

David #554:

I think a critical question here involves the cost of learning something about me (or whomever).

One reason this is important: I don't think it makes sense to talk about privacy, most of the time, in the language of rights, exactly. I mean, there are surely some boundaries we'd like to be absolute, but I think a lot of what we mean by privacy[1] is not really about rights[2], it's about a bunch of places where the difficulty of getting certain information has interacted with the difficulty of preventing it from being collected to determine a certain bubble of privacy, in which we can live. And as technology, laws, customs, markets, etc., change, that bubble gets moved around and shrinks.

Now, what's possible given existing technology is not really subject to public debate. But what's permissible by law, what custom permits, and what people will willingly buy and sell, all those things are driven by the sum of our choices. We (and the Germans, and the Dutch, and the Chinese, and....) can have an effect on the outcomes here, despite the fact that neither technology nor markets automatically bend to fit laws or customs.

To bring this back to the concrete issue of Street View, I also find it useful and cool and amazing. And creepy, because it erodes a bit more of that bubble of privacy we have carved out to be able to live without the intrusion of our neighbors, family and friends, unfriendly strangers, or our government. I don't know how to resolve the issue of Street View, nor of whatever the next, more useful but more intrusive, service or product will be. But that's why I think there *is* an issue, even though Street View is merely a convenient composite of stuff that was visible from unambiguously public places at various times.

[1] And other words like freedom, tolerance, democracy, etc, follow the same pattern. Realizing this is one reason I'm no longer quite a libertarian, however much I still identify with many of their goals and ideals.

[2] By which I mean boundaries that must only be crossed under very special circumstances--stuff like only allowing someone to enter my house and search it with a search warrant, or only allowing someone to shoot me under very specific circumstances like self defense, etc.

#556 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Terry #551:

That's true. But I didn't vote for Obama so I could get a guy to continue Bush's policies. Nor have I been voting for Democrats since 9/11/2001 with that goal in mind.

For the president to claim the authority to murder American citizens on his say so alone is, in my opinion, proper grounds for impeachment. That was true for W, and it's true for Obama. Pointing out that Obama's policies are no worse than Bush's (indeed, they're considerably better) doesn't excuse anything. It seems like a repeat of the old "Clinton did it too" defense that W's shills loved so much.

#557 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 09:42 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #501:

There aren't many cheerful SF stories about a world in which everything is known, are there? There's "I See You" by Damon Knight and "The Dying Past" by Isaac Asimov. Not happy stories.

What about The Light of Other Days? It's been a long time since I read it, but IIRC it ends, at least, with an at least somewhat utopian future. But I could be dreadfully misremembering it.

#558 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 10:36 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ a bunch of places: I agree with you that it would be difficult, given an open society, to stop projects such as Street View. I wouldn't be shocked to find the NSA (hi there!) or some other government agency had anticipated it and done it for themselves. That sort of detail about an area is very valuable for monitoring and control.

Just because it may be inevitable doesn't mean I think it's a good thing. It may be a good thing once the bad parts have been gone through. The Industrial Revolution sucked for many who lived during it, killed a lot of them, and destroyed good and peaceful ways of life. I'd find it disrespectful to their sacrifices to discard the fruit of the tree their bodies fertilized.

It wont make the near future pleasant, though. It's change imposed by people without concern for what's best for me, or for society in general. I don't have to like it, and I don't. Maybe I will.

By the way, are you any relation to the Richard Dyer-Bennett whose LP I recently bought?

Bruce Arthurs @ 537: I should have said, "Those are not cheerful stories." I'll have access to my copy of "I See You" this weekend. I'll reread it and see what I think.

abi @ 516: I don't know "Other Days, Other Eyes". On googling (sigh), I take it that's a book and not a story. Am I right? Or should I look for it in a magazine? I've got lots of those.

Kevin Reid @ 557: Ditto for The Light of Other Days. It's embarrassing there are Clarke books I haven't read, but there it is. Tim Mitts is a better man than I. Just ask Julia.

albatross @ 555: Jack Butler's Nightshade has an interesting take on "the cost of learning something". It's an interesting SF novel by a literary writer who's a Heinlein fan.

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 11:38 PM:

I just came back from a talk that Janet Croft gave tonight to a group of Tolkien fans while she's in town for an academic conference. I drove her back to her hotel, and would have liked to talk longer, but we were both tired. Me, I had woken up at 2:30am then gone to the gym before heading to the office. We'll try again, eh, Janet?

#561 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:40 AM:

Made it safely to Dallas. The stretch from Ennis to I-20 was a nightmare, but the rest of the trip wasn't too bad.

Kevin, #557: I had to check your link; I've seen the title "Light of Other Days" on a short story that was decidedly not happy, but I'm sure it wasn't by Clarke. A substance called "slow glass" was involved.

#562 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:47 AM:

561
Bob Shaw.

#563 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:49 AM:

Lee @ 561: Bob Shaw wrote that one, and one or two subsequent stories. Not to be confused with the ACC novel of similar title.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Lee @561:

Light of Other Days is also a Bob Shaw* short story, one which I can never read aloud without choking up. It also formed the nucleus of Shaw's book about slow glass†, Other Days, Other Eyes.

Other Days, Other Eyes includes, among other things, a scientist whose wife's eyes are damaged. She blames him, and makes him carry slow glass eyeballs with him everywhere, which she then puts in and sees his world a day later. (Then pretty woman, jealousy, yadda yadda).

In the end, the world is seeded with tiny crystals of slow glass, which record everything, everywhere, all the time. Just go scoop them up and peer. They glow, too, as they release the daylight they absorbed along with the images. It's a memorable and creepifying image.

-----
* It is probably fair at this point to mention that I am married to a Bob Shaw fan and collector. I think we have at least one copy of nearly every edition of every book he published.
† Slow glass is glass structured so that takes light longer to pass through. So 24-hour glass takes 24 hours; you can see what happened on the other side of it a day before. Shaw takes this tiny thing and extends it in many directions, from 12-hour slow glass streetlamps to panoramic window factories in the Scottish Highlands, that allow city dwellers to look out at beautiful scenery for a few years. And then he twists the invention like a knife in a wound, to show how these inventions hurt as well as help.

#565 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 07:17 AM:

Ah! Slow glass. Mrs. Arkansawyer must have that book somewhere. She did a small, beautiful photo book of family pictures for her parents and titled it that.

#566 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:18 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @509, 560: So here's an idea for a horror story [..] Suppose you saw a face like that in your Picassa thumbnails, and when you clicked to view the containing photo, that face wasn't there? And suppose Picassa kept finding it in other photos, but on inspection it wasn't in those photos either?

Possible title: The Devil is in the Pixels.

#567 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:54 AM:

I've been thinking about acquiring a camcorder, one that'd also take hi-res still photos, but where movies would be of good enough quality on a computer screen, or on YouTube. Something in the $200-or-less range. Any suggestions?

#568 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Serge @ 567 ...
I was given a Kodak Zi8 which has been getting tolerable reviews... Haven't really done anything more than charge it up, though, so I can't speak for how good or bad it seems to be to me.

#569 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:21 AM:

ARHGGGgghhhh! Teen sells $600,000 worth of cell-phone books!

http://buzz.yahoo.com/buzzlog/93383?fp=1

(shoot me now)

#570 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:35 AM:

xeger @ 568... Thanks. I was wondering about the sound quality, but the first demo clip answered my question. Does it also take still photos? One last thing... The 2nd clip refers to some manipulation of the recording having been done with iMovie. Can the latter be used for editing, pasting clips from recordings made in different formats, that stuff? Thanks again.

#571 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:57 AM:

John@558: yes, Richard was my uncle. A friend has recently published a biography of him that's pretty good, too.

#572 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:59 AM:

#569:
"...upload from their phones to publishing websites, then get instant feedback on plot twists and helpful fixes on typos. "

So I can let the mob decide how my book ends?

How about a pay-to--vote-for-the-ending scheme?

#573 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Rob Rusick @566: Thanks alot for the earworm-- now I'll have "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" playing on Radio Central Nervous System from now 'til the cows come home...

#574 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:45 PM:

albatross@555: My bubble of safety from neighbors has never included my front lawn, for example. If somebody felt that theirs previously had, and now didn't, I see how that would be perceived as a loss. However, I consider their old perception that their front lawn was part of their bubble of safety to be clearly false to fact; it never was, whatever they thought. Detectives are routinely in the business of gathering data in public about people who think they're not going to be seen (I suspect real ones don't break into houses illegally nearly as often as fictional ones do). Divorce court records will provide an endless litany of people's cars (and the people themselves) being seen somewhere they weren't supposed to be -- the information of where you parked your car in public space is simply not reliably "private".

Which was the part I disagree with. Mostly we agree. I was never a thoroughgoing Libertarian or even libertarian, but I have lots of impulses that way.

#575 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Eric@572: Can I vote for "write an ending you as the creator of this world and these characters thinks works"?

#576 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Lori @ #573, my sympathies. I have had the "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet" jingle stuck in my head all day. Not even "Pants on the Ground" can dislodge it.

BTW, on behalf of my fellow Northeast Georgians, I would just like to say: WHERE THE HELL IS OUR SNOW??

#577 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:18 PM:

Bruce Cohen at 509 on the Picassa face recognition scheme:

Do you get accidental faces in the random noise too?

#578 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Diatryma @496 said: My mom freaked out a bit when she found our house on Street View. ... She doesn't like not being able to control information about herself, and she-- and I-- has trouble coming up with any reasons for people to find where she lives and see a picture of the house.

To give an example of why I might have an interest in seeing the houses of total strangers: I've been using StreetView a lot in neighborhoods I've never been in because we're househunting, and part of window-shopping the real estate listings is looking at the street the house is on -- both so I can see different pictures of the front of the house than the realtor uploaded, and so I can see what the block as a whole is mostly like.

ajay @518 said: More seriously: obviously, I'm not going to call them loonies for being uneasy about StreetView, but personally I don't see it as much of a change from the satellite images and maps already available. In fact, I find the satellite pictures more intrusive - you can see into people's gardens.

While window-shopping for real estate, we do like to look at the entire lot that's for sale, to get an idea of how the space works and whether we'd be interested. However, amidst doing that (relatively legitimate) thing, John and I recently got diverted by the fact that a house four houses over had what was clearly a kiddy-pool in the yard on the summer day that satellite photo was taken, so we went on a little who-has-a-pool safari that in retrospect is kind of creepy.

#579 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Elliott Mason (576): Someone way up-thread mentioned the possibility of a house being captured with peeling paint. The conversation since then has mostly dealt with personal-privacy issues, but I've been wondering if that kind of thing (peeling paint, junk piled up in the yard...) would deter house-hunters. It could have been repainted/cleaned up by now; would you go look, or would it be an automatic turn-off?

#580 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 577:

Do you get accidental faces in the random noise too?

I haven't found any yet. Without knowing anything about the detection algorithm I'm mostly waving my hands, but I'd guess that it should be fairly robust in terms of false positive detections. One thing it could do is detect the average noise level of a detected face, and reject ones where the noise frequency is close to that of the feature set it's looking for. What I can tell is that looking at the way it groups faces into equivalence classes, it has trouble recognizing that two images are of the same face when taken from different sides, even if all the features are visible in both.

Oh, and I should have mentioned about those demon faces: one of them is my son. Bwaaaahaaaahaaa!

#581 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 03:07 PM:

Breaking News at the Olympics -- Luge competitor dies from crash during a training run. Sled came off the track and the luger hit a steel pole head first...

Not the way I want to see the Games begin. Sympathies to family and friends.

#582 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 03:15 PM:

Abi@564:

> Other Days, Other Eyes includes, among other things, a scientist whose wife's eyes are damaged.
> She blames him, and makes him carry slow glass eyeballs with him everywhere, which she then puts
> in and sees his world a day later. (Then pretty woman, jealousy, yadda yadda).

I'd forgotten about that one. It neatly unites two of Shaw's favourite themes—blindness, or perhaps one should say blindings, i.e. the poking-out-of-eyeballs, and terrible wives. Shaw's male-lead characters do rather tend to get lumbered with unsatisfactory spouses.

I'll have to re-read the Orbitsville books again some time...

#583 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 03:30 PM:

I like albatross' comment up yonder about "rights" not really being a good framework for when we're talking about the consequences of aggregation and such. I propose a couple of virtues, instead:

#1. It's good for officials acting in their official capacity to be subject to the public's eye and likewise when it comes to private stuff that bears very directly on their ability, willingness, etc. to do their duties. And likewise for those with power over others - the high-ranking staff of powerful corporations, say.

#2. It's good for everyone else to be free to share or withhold information about themselves and their lives, and to respect others' choice to withhold.

The problem with Street View in this framework is that it has no capacity for separating public and private lives and business.

#584 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:00 PM:

#567 ::: Serge
I've been thinking about acquiring a camcorder, one that'd also take hi-res still photos, but where movies would be of good enough quality on a computer screen, or on YouTube. Something in the $200-or-less range. Any suggestions?,/i.
If you don't mind being limited to (many) 8min 30sec clips, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX48 is pretty good. Wide angle to zoom, takes decent pictures, good UI, HD & standard video, in Motion JPEG format (easier to edit compared to AVHCD), plus it's imaged stabilized, at 200-270$ depending on the day.

#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Edgar lo Siento @ 584... Thanks for the tip.

#586 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:08 PM:

So since I haven't yet seen this mentioned here, a nice specific case in point on how automatically aggregating information available to someone and making it available to everyone can hurt:

http://fugitivus.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/fuck-you-google/

tl;dr: Google automatically adds Buzz to all Gmail accounts without their request or consent, with a default to display the physical address and current location of all Gmail mobile users to all their Google Buzz "followers" - including this woman's rapist ex-husband. (And you can't change that setting if you don't have a Google Buzz profile.)

#587 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:12 PM:

Lila @576: BTW, on behalf of my fellow Northeast Georgians, I would just like to say: WHERE THE HELL IS OUR SNOW??

We've been wondering whose s*** this was that got delivered to DC. Come on up and get it.

#588 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:17 PM:

Lila @ 579: Snow is here! In talking about snow this morning, my new boss (who is from Kentucky) started on how people "down here" panic a a few inches of snow. Asserting my superior knowledge of snow and driving thereon (gained in Michigan), I reminded him that the danger isn't the snow, it's the ice under the snow. He left work 4 hours before the university officially closed down.

#589 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Clifton Royston @586:

I've just started a thread that touches on the topic, and links to that blog post.

#590 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:14 PM:

#585 ::: Serge,
You're welcome! I'm glad to be of help!
Canon's line of "PowerShot" point and shoots also do video, though, I'm pretty sure that the HD-capable ones aren't in the 200$ range. If you are content with standard definition (640x480 @ 24 or 30fps), many Canons now do that, and a good strategy is to go to Target* and see if the ones they have on clearance can do that. By far the cheapest way to go.

The UI on them tends to be pretty good too, but (most) of the Panasonic Lumix cameras have faster lenses (more light, e.g. f/2.5), and start wider (equivalent to a 25mm film camera lens) so it's easier to fit a group of people, or a group of buildings in a picture. Fitting in a group of people, in say, a dark and small hotel room at a con, where there is no hope of backing up to fit everyone in would be a good application for the Panasonic.

I use mine as a shirt pocket sized camcorder for making videos of my little one.

*assuming you live in the U.S.

#591 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Open thread yay: I've just had a physical (we're changing our life insurance), and I am apparently a "healthy young woman".

Nice doctor. An explainer. "Your thyroid is hidden under your collarbones, so when you swallow it would jump up if it were enlarged. But I can't feel anything, so that's good." I easily mastered the impulse to be sarcastic when he explained that my low blood pressure might lead to dizziness when I stand up suddenly (a phenomenon I've dealt with all my life).

So. Yes. Healthy young woman. Still bemused about the "young" part, considering (a) he looked to be within five years of my age, which (b) increments to a new first digit on Monday.

But this reminds me to ask: is everybody keeping an eye on their blood pressure? It's quick, it's easy to do in many places, and it's important.

#592 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:34 PM:

abi @591 Yay! And perhaps your bio age still scans "young" even if your calendar age doesn't agree. (I follow you into the same new first digit four days later.) Maybe you've got the health of someone from Beta Colony.

And, indeed, despite my lack of health insurance, I am keeping an eye on my blood pressure, as there's a handy tester in the pharmacy. Still at my typical 110/60 whenever I check, and yes, I get those head rushes too.

#593 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:44 PM:

abi @ 591... Yay for the young woman!

#594 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Rikibeth @ 592... four days later

...and I already have the perfect illustration for the occasion.
("Oh, great. Now give me the good news.")
Heheheh

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Edgar lo Siento @ 590... It turns out that I do have a PowerShot, but I had dismissed its camcorder option when I bought it 6 years ago. I just tried it, and the picture is decent if not great. The sound is good, anyway. I may eventually look for something a bit more recent, but I now have something I can work with. Thanks.

#596 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Serge, keep in mind that, as of four days from now, I intend to have birthdays, but NOT a numerical age. And I don't intend to reclaim a numerical age for thirty more years.

#597 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 07:32 PM:

#595 ::: Serge,
You are very welcome! I'm delighted you found a solution you like!

Be sure to test playback on your computer, though. I have a powershot of similar vintage, and found that the nice looking video on the back of the camera was dreadfully pixelated when seen on my monitor.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 07:46 PM:

Edgar lo Siento @ 597... It looks OK on the computer although it makes me feel like I'm watching a super8 film.

#599 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 08:42 PM:

#591: But this reminds me to ask: is everybody keeping an eye on their blood pressure? It's quick, it's easy to do in many places, and it's important.

As a survivor of a quadruple bypass (in 2004) I have searched for and discarded as unsuitable many morally inferior sphygmomanometers; this past year, I acquired a new cardiac specialist, as the previous one had retired, and was given a new device which only takes (joy!) two hands to operate properly.

#600 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Dan Hoey, #587, I had 31" on the van and since we're supposed to get 2-4" more snow on Monday, a friend and her teenage son came yesterday to dig me out. I got a lot of errands done today and will do more tomorrow.

You know those crawls that run across the bottom of the screen saying what cities/governments/schools are closed? I saw an interesting one:

Emery Fears Boys Academy

abi, #591, great news! And yes, I use a wrist BP machine twice a day.

#601 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:30 PM:

abi @ 591: I did that on my lunch hour today. The Student Health people are very nice about taking care of the staff, too. My right arm appears to have high blood pressure. My left arm does not.

And speaking of politics:

Did you hear Bill Clinton's mammary artery was what put him in the hospital? I was confused, though--they said he had two. I thought he only had one blood vessel that responded to mammaries.

#602 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 03:30 AM:

Abi, your mentioning digits reminds me of a sign I saw today:

I'm not forty
I'm 39.95 plus shipping and handling

#603 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 08:29 AM:

I'm posting this here because this could have happened here:

On a roll

#604 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 01:32 PM:

Serge @559, it was great to meet you too, and I was pretty wrung out from my presentation (those darn kids in the University of New Mexico Hobbit Society ask tough questions! And there's always someone in the audience who knows more about the Silmarillion and HoMe than I do). Next time I come to Albuquerque (perhaps late summer 2011) I'll spend more time! Now off to make sure I'm ready to do my actual conference paper...

#605 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Teaching is a noble profession, never doubt it. Grading, on the other hand, not so much. Extracted from the word mines is this, ahem, gem: "Vatican City is beginning to isolate from many international partners such as India, Egypt, and Portugal in an attempt to increase trade values and economic assurance with Italy."

#606 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 04:53 PM:

Fragano #605 That sentence broke my brain. It... no, can't say anything. Brain broken.

#607 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 07:34 PM:

Daniel Klein @603: This too!

#608 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 08:43 PM:

For those who don't know (and me, who should have remembered)... polyester thread is frequently stronger than silk.

Further, if you happen to be not paying attention, and attempt to rip said polyester thread out of your silk, the weakest link will give way, with notably undesirable effects.

Ooops.

#609 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:05 PM:

xeger, 608: I feel your pain. (Cotton sewing thread is stronger than linen, if you were wondering, and Q-snaps are great for quilting and horrible for linen.)

#610 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:20 PM:

TexAnne @ 609 ...
Heh. Duely noted... ;) Speaking of quilting (and pain) any chance you know how quilting clamps are supposed to be used? I ended up with 10 of them that somebody mistook for woodworking C-clamps, and I'm wondering if they're supposed to clamp two bars of wood together to keep the quilt in place... They seem rather likely to cause holes otherwise.

(I'm now suspicious that the fabric above may be rayon rather than silk -- it's hard to do a burn/sniff test with a head cold -- but the same principle holds...)

#611 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:29 PM:

I learned from my Laurel many years ago never to sew wool with nylon thread. I've always remembered this.

#612 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:32 PM:

xeger: are they those pliers-looking things? I think those are for long-arm machine quilting.

#613 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:53 PM:

TexAnne @ 612 ...
No, they look like a C clamp where the clamp part only goes halfway.

#614 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 10:01 PM:

xeger: Well, in that case, obviously I haven't seen them, but I can imagine them being used on a quilting frame. Once you roll up the edges of the sandwich, it's pretty thick--I don't think it would be easy to poke holes in it. The backing fabric is usually wider than the batting, which is wider than the top, and that's the part that has all the work in it.

If that makes sense. I can't quite tell ATM.

#615 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 10:15 PM:

Abi, one of the nice things about my doc is he's kept me in samples for my blood pressure medicine. At this point I'm a seasonal class at my new job and would not get insurance unless I'm posted as seasonal and working for 6 months or more. So 90 days until I can apply for a longer-term posting.

The up side is that my BP was pretty easy to get under control. The down side is that I really should not stand up fast first thing in the morning or I'll fall over. (I take it in the evening because that appears to make it much more effective.)

Put at least I'm getting paid, which is more than I've had (other than catch-as-catch-can) for the last two years.

#616 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:57 AM:

Joy and Happiness department--a genuine HP AC power adapter has my laptop recharging.... (the Targus AC power adapter that I was using after the original power adapter failed, went wonky and wound up totally unusable 25 hours ago. That contributed to my late arrival Saturday at Boskone. I also picked up the new power adapber on the way back to the convention.)

#617 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:27 AM:

As counterpoint, my five-year-old PC is showing signs of having known better days. One of my twin SLI video cards failed recently, and I think it's due to the power supply wearing out (running now with a single video card and all of the LED lights stopped flickering). If it goes, I'll have to sell off some of my stuff in meatspace to replace it (I have a 5000+ item comic book collection that I may be able to cherry pick [for example, Iron Man #1]). So, if I end up being offline for several weeks, that would be why.

#618 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:32 AM:

I guess it's an advantage not to be too tied to any one genre or type of writing if it keep you from taking slights against some genre or style too seriously. That advantage doesn't seem to have softened my reaction to the lead on this obituary:

William Tenn, who wrote satirical science fiction at a time when few writers in the genre displayed a sense of humor, died at his home in Pittsburgh on Feb. 7.
#619 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:25 AM:

My latest feline companion is a morning person. Arghhhh!!!

#620 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 11:11 AM:

'Still bemused about the "young" part, considering (a) he looked to be within five years of my age, which (b) increments to a new first digit on Monday.'

I'm similarly aged and telling people that forty is the new thirty-seven.

#621 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 01:24 PM:

DDB: If I am not seeing someone, and they are at my house, it's not a problem if people know. It might not even be a problem if I am seeing them.

But that's contextual. Let's say I start seeing someone after I get a divorce (or after they do). Say they were at my house before the divorce. It suddenly looks as though we were an item prior.

I, actually, am worried about incompetent investigators, because they are the one's most likely to fail to collect that context.

But you seem to have a sense of privilege, the idea that somehow the evil minds of others won't affect you. I am not so sanguine. I've been the target of rumor an innuendo. Things which were harmless were reported as harmful. Things which hadn't happened were reported as fact. It makes me wary, because I know that things are often not presented as they are, and that how they seem is something I have limited control over, because the "facts" are out of my hands, and being spread by others.

albatross: My complaint with making it, "Obama's Decision" is that it elides the badness of Bush. Your comment made it seem Obama had made a new decision. It's bad that he is maintaining it, but to lay it at his feet feels a lot more like absolving Bush of it. They both need to be held to the fire.

#622 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:48 PM:

OT-ness: Do I get this right that if you do a grossly oversimplified Chinese/Western cultural mashup, today should theoretically be the start of some kind of Year of Love?

#623 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:57 PM:

I was just introduced to this example of topiary this morning.
I'm told that it's been through several homeowners, at least one of which wouldn't sell to anyone who didn't promise to maintain the thing.

#624 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:12 PM:

PJ @ 623: Your topiary link doesn't work for me.

#625 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:24 PM:

Raphael @622: Year of the Metal-Loving Tiger, maybe?

#626 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Dang.
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=34.24267,-118.493731&spn=0,359.997683&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=34.242584,-118.49373&panoid=W7aXumGRQs-ZfzFJPZTdGA&cbp=12,35.84,,0,8.44

or, in street terms, looking at the southeast corner of Hayvenhurst and Plummer, in Granada Hills, from the southwest.

#627 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:08 PM:

Street View features are getting creepier and creepier every day. I figure one day, we'll be able to play a GTA MMO using Street View data.

#628 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Somethings can only be seen, they can't be described very well.

Like fifteen-foot-high ivy dogs.

#629 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 627:

Someone's interfaced the Wii balance board with Street View, so that you can walk down any street in the system.

#630 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:42 PM:

A question for cooks familiar with both USian and British ingredients: Can you help me translate these terms?

Strong bread flour.
Caster sugar.
Plain flour.
Glace cherries.
Ground allspice Sachet.

If it matters, these are from a recipe for hot cross buns at The Times Online.

#631 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:52 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 630:

Caster sugar in the UK is very finely powdered sugar, so either superfine or (possibly) confectioner's sugar.

Plain flour should be all-purpose flour.

Glace cherries are candied cherries.

I don't know what size the allspice sachet would be. Little envelope of the stuff, so, um, a teaspoon or two?

I'm not sure what strong bread flour would be. I found a website that claimed that it's called hard flour, if that helps you any.

#632 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 07:01 PM:

630
caster sugar is extra-fine sugar - not quite powdered, but close

glace cherries are candied cherries

plain flour is probably all-purpose flour

strong bread flour is bread flour, but not whole-wheat (you'd want white or unbleached)

ground allspice sachet, I think, is mixed spices (going by E. David: allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves)

#633 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 07:13 PM:

Oops. The line break in the recipe was in the wrong place; it's allspice, then a sachet of yeast.

#634 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 07:40 PM:

633
You can still use a spice mixture - it's apparently the usual version. (At least the recipes I looked at said so.)

#635 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Allspice is a spice, AKA pimenta and several other things.

The "sachet of yeast"... not sure. Around here one can buy baker's yeast in little packets, 2¼ tsp. in volume. Maybe one of those?

#636 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Jenny@630:

Strong bread flour would just be US bread flour -- 'strong' bread flour is asking for higher gluten, which generic US bread flour has.

Plain flour is all-purpose flour. The point of 'plain' is to distinguish it from 'self-raising' flour, which is pre-mixed with baking powder.

I think allspice is still called allspice in the US. Jamaica pepper is another possible name. Dry, round, hard, brown things a bit larger than a peppercorn. If you can't get allspice, then a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (something like 2:2:1) would be a reasonable approximation.

Confectioners sugar is not quite identical to caster sugar, but the difference doesn't matter. In fact, you could perfectly well use ordinary sugar -- the only point of caster sugar is that the smaller crystals dissolve faster. (I assume this is for the glaze)

#637 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Thanks, all.

#638 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#639 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:37 PM:

I just read that organic flour in Australia is not subject to mandatory folate fortification. The cynically evil, venal slackwit politicians who made that decision should be required to contribute to the public good by bankrolling caregivers for children born with severe neural tube defects, a direct result of their short-sighted policy (I would, of course, not trust them to be volunteer caregivers themselves). The mandate for other bread-making flour only began in 2009.

#640 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 11:17 PM:

I am unwinding from Boskone. Fun. Yet detached and ineffable. A sense of abundance yet a sense of detachment and unimportance, like being a fly hovering around leftovers. Conventions are like that for me some of the time somehow.

#641 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 11:45 PM:

abi, #564: I didn't realize there was a whole book of slow-glass stories! I'll have to go looking for that, thanks.

Tracie, #588: You can tell your boss, with my compliments, that to me HE is one of "these people down here" who panic over three flakes. KY is not significantly better than TN in that regard, I assure you.

ConDFW took quite a hit from the weather. I'm told, unofficially, that their attendance dropped by 50%. Still, it was a good con overall.

#642 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Doyle and I have a reading and signing at the UConn Co-op in Storrs, CT, on Tuesday, 16 Feb, at 6:30 pm.

#643 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 12:18 AM:

Clarification: caster sugar is best approximated by superfine sugar, sometimes sold as bar sugar because the smaller crystals dissolve more easily in cool liquids. American confectioner's sugar is known in the UK as icing sugar. I would advise against using icing sugar where it calls for caster sugar -- the structure will be markedly different in a batter. Better to use ordinary US granulated sugar (there will be some difference, but not critical) or take the US granulated sugar and pulse it in a food processor or blender -- measure AFTER grinding.

#644 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 12:42 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 509: Suppose you saw a face like that in your Picassa thumbnails, and when you clicked to view the containing photo, that face wasn't there? And suppose Picassa kept finding it in other photos, but on inspection it wasn't in those photos either?

After Shaggy and Scooby accidentally destroy about a million dollars worth of servers and workstations, Fred and Velma determine that a disgruntled employee has hacked the software to add demonic faces to the thumbnails.

#645 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:02 AM:

Velma was always my favorite of the Scoobies.

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 06:32 AM:

Lee @ 641... In the 1970s, Marvel Comics published B&W large-sized comic-book "Unknown Worlds of Science-Fiction", which adapted SF stories along with original ones. The device leading into the stories was the slow glass, done with Shaw's permission. In fact, one issue even had an interview with him.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 06:33 AM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!!!

#648 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:53 AM:

Happy Birthday abi!

#649 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:59 AM:

Hartelijk gefeliciteerd, Abi.

#650 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 08:10 AM:

Joel Polowin #635: That's pimento, not "pimenta". Having spent seven years of my life tending* the stuff, I will, without undue modesty, say I do know whereof I speak.


*Reaping, drying, separating the dried berries from leaves and twigs, bagging the dried berries, and so on. My father made a liqueur from the ripe berries, with the assistance of a substance called "john crow batty."

#651 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:14 AM:

Fragano @ 650: Um. I've always seen "pimenta" on the spice bottles, and the W'pedia article has a footnote which explains that "pimento" is properly used for the capsicum pepper. Regional variation?

#652 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:50 AM:

Happy birthday Abi! My Mom's B-day was yesterday (Yep, V-day). We had a nice little party at my sister's place. I got pics of my nephews and niece with chocolate sideburns. ;-) I hope yours is as nice.

#653 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:23 AM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!

#654 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:24 AM:

xeger @610 said: Speaking of quilting (and pain) any chance you know how quilting clamps are supposed to be used? I ended up with 10 of them that somebody mistook for woodworking C-clamps, and I'm wondering if they're supposed to clamp two bars of wood together to keep the quilt in place... They seem rather likely to cause holes otherwise.

The quilting clamps I know how to use are C-shaped sproingy plastic, and are used for holding most of the quilt rolled up neatly in two framing scroll-sausages so you can sew the bit in the middle without needing arms eight feet long.

The ones you describe sound like they look like these antique ones; close? I searched Google Books, and other than finding that librarians used to like to use them to clamp stacks of index cards for inking their edges red all at once, no useful information on their utility was found. Even YouTube has failed me, which is unusual; they have instructional videos for just about anything!

However, they'd still work for holding scrolly sausages of quilt if you put, say, a furring strip or 1-by-3 or some similar stick of wood on the edge of the quilt before you rolled it -- and as for poking holes, when one is clamping a rolled-up quilt, one wraps the edge-logs in scrap fabric anyway, to prevent finger grease and the like from marking it up, so if your scrap is, say, denimy or otherwise sturdy, that'd protect the fabric from the clamps, I'd think.

Purely speculation, but consistent with how I've used the OTHER tools that are called 'quilting clamps' ...

#655 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Intrigued by Fragano's #650, I Googled:
"The more elusive and even stronger overproof rum found in Jamaica, is JB rum, being short for John Crow Batty rum. John Crow is the name of the vultures seen flying around Jamaica, the meaning of the name signifies the taste of the JB rum. It's supposed to be similar to the smell of a John Crow's butt, in other words, its posterior. Getting your hands on a bottle of JB rum may (thankfully) be very difficult. It is supposed to be found around the time of the sugar harvest when the best and strongest rum is reckoned to be made. It is said to be a brown liquid and not white like Wray and Nephews overproof rum. You should consider yourself lucky if you find yourself a bottle of JB rum. Then again, you may not..."

One should hardly be surprised that John Crow Batty has also been the inspiration for poetry.

#656 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:08 PM:

My favorite part of the Scooby-Doo movie review A.O. Scott did in The New York Times was this paragraph: "I will spare you further plot summary, except to note that the main plot is a foursquare violation of everything the old series stood for. I realize that I am defending the integrity of one of the cheapest, least original products of modern American juvenile culture, but somebody has to stand up for tradition, by gosh."

#657 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:33 PM:

Open Threadiness: several times, when the Fluorosphere has been discussing buying and eating local foods, I've mentioned Athens Locally Grown, a network of local farmers and dairyfolk organized by my friend Eric Wagoner, who also wrote the software that makes the thing work. The software has been licensed to similar groups all over the country.

Eric just released this time-lapse video of setting up for the weekly delivery, with an explanation of how the system works. It's fun to watch.

#658 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Does anyone else think the "Unlink your feeds, please" sidelight link is very, very preachy and patronising?

Even though he may have half a point, I find his tone so snotty that I want to smack him round the head with a very large haddock.

#659 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:21 PM:

Happy b-day abi! I give you internet chocolate.*

*It's actually a dog.

#660 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Birthday greetings, abi!

#661 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:22 PM:

Happy Birthday, abi!

#662 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Many happies to Abi!

Love, c.

#663 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Earl Cooley III@639

cynically evil, venal slackwit politicians

Umm. Australian politicians are not noticeably more angelic than those prevalent in other places, but in this case the local nutrition/diet folks are more to blame. There is a strong anti-fortification sentiment, based partly on the idea that dietary nutrients should be enough, and partly on the idea that taking supplements should be voluntary. The folate problem is ideological blindness, not cynical venality. "Slackwit", I can agree on.

As Earl may well know, but is not obvious without context, fortification of conventional wheat flour has only been required since September 2009. Fortification of organic wheat flour and flour from non-wheat grains is currently permitted but not required, the same situation as for all grain products until a few months ago.

It might also be worth noting that in Australia insufficient folate is more a cause of terminations of pregnancy than of children with neural tube defects, but I really don't want to start a discussion about whether this is better or worse.

#664 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Abi's birthday, my parents' anniversary, and Lupercalia!

#665 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 654 ...
The ones you describe sound like they look like these antique ones; close? I searched Google Books, and other than finding that librarians used to like to use them to clamp stacks of index cards for inking their edges red all at once, no useful information on their utility was found. Even YouTube has failed me, which is unusual; they have instructional videos for just about anything!

Indeedy :) That's the link that I used to identify them, and promptly misplaced :)

However, they'd still work for holding scrolly sausages of quilt if you put, say, a furring strip or 1-by-3 or some similar stick of wood on the edge of the quilt before you rolled it -- and as for poking holes, when one is clamping a rolled-up quilt, one wraps the edge-logs in scrap fabric anyway, to prevent finger grease and the like from marking it up, so if your scrap is, say, denimy or otherwise sturdy, that'd protect the fabric from the clamps, I'd think.

Ah, okay. I haven't had occasion to get to the point of trying to quilt anything as of yet (I don't really count patchwork that doesn't involve padding ;>), so I didn't know that you wrapped the edges in the first place. It makes sense :)

#666 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Happy Birthday, Abi.

#667 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Happies on the Birthday to the abi-person! Welcome to your new tens digit, young woman!

#668 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:50 PM:

David Goldfarb, Serge, Fragano, David Harmon, heresiarch, Linkmeister, Laina, Constance, Stefan Jones, Lydy Nickerson, and Xopher,

Thank you very much for the birthday wishes. It's been a good day.

One thing that struck me as I cycled to work through the snow, with two cakes (one chocolate, one spice*) on the back of my bike. This is not the way I pictured turning 40, back when I was 20 or even 30. It's much stranger and much more fun.

Makes me wonder what 50 or 60 will be like.

----
* including allspice, which is sold in the Netherlands as "piment"

#669 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Your new tens digit is a 4????!!!

I'd've thought it was a 3, from your pictures, or at least a 5, from your writing.

#670 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:25 PM:

Flatterer.

#671 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:31 PM:

How joyful to be able to flatter without speaking a word of untruth, nor a breath of insincerity.

I've often said I want to be you when I grow up. Now I find you're over ten years younger than I am! I tell you, it's humbling.

#672 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Terry:

Fair enough, W was worse. Obama is merely continuing the evil policies of W. We should have impeached W and removed him from office, because what he was doing was wrong and unconstitutional and terrifying. We should impeach and remove Obama for the same reasons.

We won't. The Republicans will sooner or later regain power, probably more as a function of the economy and the failure of health care reform than anything else. Obama's W-lite policies will then become, by definition, the far-left extreme end of the Overton window. All right thinking serious pundits and politicians will acknowledge that Obama's positions as of 2012 or 2016 are the most liberal position allowable in the discussion. Keeping suspects locked up forever with no trial, trying suspects in kangaroo courts rigged to find them guilty, suppressing evidence of war crimes, protecting the perpetrators of domestic spying and war crimes from any possible consequences, assassinating US citizens on the president's say so--those will be the extreme civil libertarian/wacko leftist position, the point beyond which any arguments can be ignored as coming from an obvious lunatic. The next Republican president will define himself as a centrist, using that as the leftmost point in the spectrum--he'll only allow waterboarding and sleep deprivation and hypothermia to be used on citizens snatched off the streets on his say-so, not boiling them in oil or breaking them on the wheel like the far-right demands. He'll only have really bad Americans who are a threat to the regime killed by his death squads, not all dissenters.

#673 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:53 PM:

Happy Birthday, abi!

#674 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Felicitations on your auspicious natal anniversary, abi!

#675 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 06:01 PM:

FX: loud scrubbing noises and a small tsunami of foam

Hippo Bathday, abi!

(You can always quote your age in hex if it's too extreme.)

#676 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 06:11 PM:

For a quick delight, go have a look at Uncle Jack. From Double Edge Films in Denver.

#677 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:31 PM:

So, a few days ago I noted that my kitchen scale had died on me. Originally I was going to let my stepfather open it up, but after discussing it with my parents, and poking around the relevant websites, I decided to try taking it back to the store where I bought it, a Bed Bath & Beyond. No receipt or box, but even so, they exchanged it for a new one, with no questions asked! (I'd expected them to at least ask to see the card I bought it with, but they didn't.)

So now I can weigh my flour right into the mixing bowl again, yay! And major props to BB&B....

#678 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Feliz cumpleaños, Abi!

#679 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Happy Birthday, abi. And many more happy rollings of the first digit.

Yeah, 40 was unexpectedly anticlimactic for me, as was 50. 60 was a little different, but still felt more like part of a continuum of years, rather than a sudden change (like "over the hill, time to start leaning on the brakes").

And what Xopher said. The way you moderate on Making Light shows more gravitas than I normally expect from someone as young as you. You can stay on the lawn.

#680 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Abi, Lang zal ze leven in de gloria!

#681 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Happy 28th, Abi. (Hexadecimally speaking)

#682 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#683 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:05 PM:

abi @ 668, I adore the idea of turning 40 being stranger and more fun than you'd ever thought, and hope the same will be true for me. May you continue to have birthdays that are stranger, or at least different, and more fun than you'd expected. Happy birthday.

#684 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:00 PM:

An Excel question: I have hypotheses about my reading-- really ridiculously obvious ones, but I'd like numbers to back them up. I'm moving information from the booklog I've kept at my Livejournal to an Excel spreadsheet, the better to track male/female, romance/sff/other, ya/adult, and why I picked up the books. Right now, I have each book in a row and each column being one of the characteristics, putting a 1 in to say that the book fits in that category, then summing the column to find out how many of that type of book I have.

What I'd like is to be able to combine columns, so I don't just have male/female ya/adult but male ya, male adult, female ya, female adult. When I did this roughly, on paper, I just made a Punnett square of sorts, two by two. Now, I'd like to have some automatic process take care of it so I can expand the spreadsheet indefinitely.

Any ideas? Better systems?

#685 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:31 PM:

Diatryma @ 684:

There are lots of things you can do, but it rather depends on what you want to do, how proficient with Excel you are, and how much work you want to put in.

How would you like to lay it out, exactly?

I've managed to abuse Excel into doing an awful lot of things, so whatever you want to do can probably be done, whether or not it's strictly the best tool for the job.

#686 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:18 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 644:

I was thinking of writing a story about the Picasa demon faces in the CSI: Arkham canon.

#687 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:24 AM:

A few months late for Christmas season, but these are some of the best gingerbread houses I've ever seen.

And... down at question #10 in the interview with the house-maker, is this:

10. Do you have any other creation in the works?

"I have, in my head, plans to make the Flatiron Building on 23rd & Broadway, and Stan Hywet Hall in Akron OH, and a traditional German building." [emphasis added]

#688 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:47 AM:

KeithS at 685, I'm okay with some work, but I wouldn't say I'm terribly proficient-- Solver's a no and macros don't exist for me, but anything other than that is just a matter of applying the basics really, really hard and catching typos.

In terms of layout, what I have now is a row per book with the equivalent of checkboxes, very easy to enter data into. I'd like to aggregate the sums somewhere intuitive, but that's cosmetic.

I guess what I want is a way to tell Excel, "If c3 has a 1 *and* e3 has a 1, put a 1 over here."

It's potentially a lot of work for results to back up what I already basically know about my reading habits, but I'd like to write a post about said habits and numbers would make me feel better. That and I think I'm going through spreadsheet withdrawal.

#689 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:02 AM:

Diatryma @ 688:

In that case, you're in luck.

Type the following into your new cell: =IF(AND(C3, E3), 1, 0)

You should be able to generalize from that a bit, but do ask if something's not clear.

I'd suggest using TRUE and FALSE instead of 1 and 0, because that way you can simply say =AND(C3, E3), but they look so ugly when you're trying to eyeball things.

#690 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:02 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#691 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:25 AM:

Happy Birthday, abi! I celebrated your birthday by seeing Richard Thompson and Band in Seattle -- first set was a (forthcoming?) album of new material including a song about Burning Man, which they recorded as a live version. Second set was very far ranging, starting with "Time It Will Show the Wiser"; the audience joined in on some of the better known bits like "Wall of Death" and "Al Bowlley's In Heaven", and went to town on "Tear Stained Letter". A very good show.

#692 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 04:41 AM:

Belated Happy Birthday Abi!

#693 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 05:18 AM:

Diatryma @688

You also might want to look into using Filter abilities (in Excel 2007 the Help entry to start from is 'Filter data in a range or table'), possibly in combination with the SUBTOTAL function (which in its simplest form works like SUM, but only adds up the values in cells that are still displayed after you have applied whatever filters you select).

#694 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 06:38 AM:

Joel Polowin #651: Wikipedia doesn't cultivate pimento. I have.

#695 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 07:01 AM:

Bruce Arthurs #655: More prosaically, John Crow Batty is either distillery-made overproof rum that has not seen the government inspector (i.e., been smuggled out of the distillery raw). Or your basic, home-made potteen or white-lightning. All the stuff I've encountered has been white, not brown.

The poem to which you link is by an old friend of mine.

#696 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 07:04 AM:

Fragano Ledgister #694: Wikipedia doesn't cultivate pimento. I have.

Oh, noes, I see a WP:NOR Predator drone incoming! Duck and cover!!!1!!

#697 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 07:54 AM:

Huh, I posted last night, got an error, brought the page up before reposting, and thought I saw the post there. Either I imagined it at midnight-thirty or I'm missing it now.

Thanks for the ideas! Last night, I sprang out of bed with the thought, "Multiplication!" and tested that. It works for the purposes of this spreadsheet, so far. I'm going to play with the less obvious solutions, too. Like I said, most of my Excel experience is applying the basics really, really hard.

#698 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Abi, I join the chorus of birthday greetings!  Hartelijk gefeliciteerd!

#699 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:35 AM:

Diatryma #697: Yup, multiplication in this context is equivalent to an AND operation. (Addition is equivalent to OR, if you consider anything non-zero as TRUE.)

#700 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:56 AM:

albatross #672 : That’s right.  I always smile when I hear Repubs calling Obama a “socialist”.  Some of them, at least, must know what real socialism is like.  But they’re serious – I think they really mean it!  So far has the window moved.

#701 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 11:12 AM:

Happy birthday, abi!

50 is great, BTW. 60 is mixed; at least, my 60 was mixed. But I continue to learn the lesson of gratitude.

#702 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 11:25 AM:

Fragano@694: No original research!

:-)

#703 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 11:39 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @580: I haven't found any [accidental faces] yet. Without knowing anything about the detection algorithm I'm mostly waving my hands, but I'd guess that it should be fairly robust in terms of false positive detections. One thing it could do is detect the average noise level of a detected face, and reject ones where the noise frequency is close to that of the feature set it's looking for. What I can tell is that looking at the way it groups faces into equivalence classes, it has trouble recognizing that two images are of the same face when taken from different sides, even if all the features are visible in both.

Don't mind me. Just savoring this paragraph.

#704 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:14 PM:

Diatryma #697 and David Harmon #699: For the OR operation, I'd suggest MAX, rather than "+", if it's available.

Incidentally, if Excel has mathematical taste, you could use GCD for OR and LCM for AND (remembering that for purposes of divisibility, 0 is greater than 1 (or any other positive integer)). But I wouldn't trust it to work, it's just fun to consider. Lattice enjoy it.

#706 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Fragano, #694: Google image search on "pimentos" brings up this. The first picture identifiable as allspice is on the second page; everything before that is peppers. There is definitely some regional variation in the usage, and I think your definition is the less-common one.

#707 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Lee #706: Perhaps. However, I will note that when I checked the OED the first meaning of "pimento" was:

Show etymology* Hide quotations* Show date charts*

A. n.

1. a. Allspice; the dried aromatic berries of the pimento tree (see sense A. 1b), or a preparation made from them. Now chiefly Caribbean.
c1660 State of Jamaica f. 611, Piemente growes plentifully in Mountaines and is a Spice of the forme of East India pepper of very curious gust haveing in it the mixt tast of diuers spices. 1690 Hist. Acct. W. Indies in Harl. Misc. (Park) II. 371 Piemento is another natural production of..Jamaica; from whence many call it Jamaica pepper. 1707 Boston News-let. 20-7 Jan. 2/2 To be Sold on reasonable terms for ready Money..Jamaica & Leeward-Island fine Sugar, Pemento or all Spice. 1783 J. O. JUSTAMOND tr. G. T. F. Raynal Philos. Hist. Europeans in Indies VI. 332 These berries..turn brown and acquire a spicy smell, which in England hath given the name of all spice to this pimento. 1832 E. LANKESTER Veg. Substances Food 364 Pimento combines the flavour and properties of many of the oriental spices. 1889 G. S. BOULGER Uses of Plants I. 66 Allspice, or Pimento, is the dry berry of Pimenta officinalis Lindl..a West Indian evergreen-tree. 1933 C. MCKAY Banana Bottom xiv. 153, I can't tell you how I did love him... He was sharp like pimenta an' sweeter than sugar. 1969 S. G. HARRISON et al. Oxf. Bk. Food Plants 132/2 Allspice (Pimenta dioica) is a small tropical tree whose unripe dried berries provide the spice called allspice... It is also known as ‘pimenta’ and ‘pimento’. 2001 B. GEDDES World Food: Caribbean 63 Its flavor is strong and distinctive, so you don't need much allspice to get the pimento point across.

b. More fully pimento tree. The allspice tree, Pimenta dioica (family Myrtaceae), an aromatic tree native to the Caribbean, southern Mexico, and Central America that has large leathery leaves and brown berries.
1679 T. TRAPHAM Disc. Health Jamaica 38 The Bay Tree or Spice Pimento perfume the woods with profitable sweets. 1712 W. ROGERS Cruising Voy. 126 He built two Hutts with Piemento Trees. 1725 H. SLOANE Voy. Islands II. 76 Piementa, Jamaica Pepper, or All-Spice-Tree. 1777 W. ROBERTSON Hist. Amer. (1783) II. 104 Pimento, a small tree, yielding a strong aromatic spice. 1825 Gentleman's Mag. 95 I. 216 The Pimento-tree grows to the height of 30 or 40 feet, with a very straight trunk. 1835 B. M. SENIOR Jamaica 55 In three or four years after the ruinate is cleared up, the pimento begins to bear. 1893 J. H. MCCARTHY Red Diamonds II. 43 The dried seeds of pimento. 1949 J. E. C. MCFARLANE Treasury Jamaican Poetry I. 23 Dark-robed Pimentos gloom. 1954 Househ. Guide & Almanac (News of World) 141/1 Allspice. The berry of the Jamaica pepper or pimento. 1991 Sun (Brisbane) 28 Feb. (Update) 34/5 He cut down several pimento trees and began to build a hut.

c. More fully pimento wood. The wood of the pimento or allspice tree.
1712 W. ROGERS Cruising Voy. 126 The Piemento Wood..serv'd him both for Firing and Candle, and refresh'd him with its fragrant Smell. 1892 Joseph Gardner & Sons' Monthly Circular 1 Oct., Pimento, £5 per ton. 1938 Z. N. HURSTON Tell my Horse (1990) I. iv. 51 This was one of the far-famed ‘Ebolite’ sticks. They are made from pimento wood, which becomes ‘prementa’ on the lips of the peasant. 2001 B. GEDDES World Food: Caribbean 136 Purists will tell you that the only way to do real jerk is to cook the pork on slats of still-green

So, I will note that the Oxford English Dictionary sides with the general usage of the 2.5 million Jamaicans. Any questions?

#708 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:41 PM:

I wish I could have used the "no original research" argument on my father. Those seven summers worth of tedious work sit "wie ein alp" as a certain philosopher once said on my memory. The odour of pimento has a powerful triggering effect to this day.

#709 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:10 PM:

So, how much snow is required before Snowpocalypse can be declared? And does the snow all have to fall as part of the same storm? As of last night or this morning, Cincinnati has a new February record for snow on the ground, courtesy of three winter storms in less than two weeks.

Despite initial appearances, this is actually a knitting question.

So, last winter, I knitted a pair of mittens. I knitted them overly large, and wool. Then I felted them. They are very practical mittens, warm and water repellent. But they have a few flaws, and I would like to knit a better pair to replace them.

First, the thumbs are too long, as I decided to err on the side of "too large" rather than "too small". This should be a simple enough fix, as I took detailed notes last year. Second, the dominant color is pink, a color I've never cared much for.*

Third (and the location of my quandary), the wonderfully long cuff doesn't have much stretch to it. The original mitten has the cuff worked in a 2x2 rib, with the whole pattern worked on size 10 (US) needles. After two trips through the washing machine with my bath towels, the ribbing is still visible, but lacks the stretch of an unfelted rib.

How can I make a rib that will retain at least some of its stretchiness after it has been felted? I realize the proper thing to do is to make some swatches, but I don't think I have enough yarn for both swatches and mittens. Current ideas include:
-Use a larger needle to knit the ribbing
-Use a different style of ribbing (but what kind? Larger? Smaller?)
-Change the felting process (I really like the convenience of throwing the mittens in with my regular laundry for felting)

Does anyone have any suggestions that might be helpful here?

*The yarn was on sale. This year's sale yarn is a lovely shade of purple.

#710 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:13 PM:

Well, that may help explain why I've never been sure what "pimento" really meant (other than the red thing stuffed into the middle of green olives; since I hate all olives except California lye-process black, I don't much care about the details of that usage).

I wonder if there's an English / American split; Jamaican English is clearly more influenced by England that America, especially historically.

#711 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:28 PM:

This page has a lot of information on allspice as it is called in many times and places. It participates in that etymological train wreck called "pepper", apparently helped out by Columbus. "Pimento" itself comes out of the Spanish for "pepper" (meaning the black kind, at least at first). Also note the generic name Pimenta. Americans as a rule mean a specific not-especially-hot pepper, though apparently someone at Methuen thought we used it for all hot peppers, at least if the way the word appears in the Tintin translation is any indication.

#712 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Singing Wren, 709: What you can do is put in a provisional caston, felt the mittens, and then undo the provisional CO and knit ribbing from there.

Or you can join Ravelry and ask in one of the mitten-making groups. (Be warned, though--it's as big a timesuck as TVTropes.)

#713 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Open-thready knitting: Thanks to a kid-free day at Capricon last weekend, I've finally cast on a baby-sized sweater I've been meaning to do * for months. I'm carefully making it considerably larger than the baby currently is, so that she won't have grown out of it before I've finished knitting it. I hope. ;->

That said, last night when we got home from dinner with friends and I had a glorious hour or so of knitting time with the kid asleep, I suddenly realized that merely doing it in Fibonacci bands of color in plain stockinette was going to look cheap and boring in the final garment. Whoops. Especially considering as I'd gotten nearly four inches into it row-wise.

I think I will find sympathy here if I say that my solution was to retrofit simple 3x3 cables along the front by picking which 8 stitches I wanted to use (outlining in purls, of course), throwing a rescue line, and bravely dropping those 8 stitches down all 20+ rows of finished knitting, and reknitting them cabled, in place. It's going to be lovely, and doing the first one only took (cough) about 1.5 hours. The second one should go faster, I hope. And I think, squinting at it and visualizing the final sweater, I want some kind of decorative motif running down the tops of the sleeves. Whether it's another cable or a line of ribbing or something I don't know; haven't decided. I have until after I've retrofit the second cable before I have to, after all. ;->

--
* The particular 'meaning-to-do'ness of it was combining (a) a very basic raglan top-down algorithm with (b) two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock I originally bought to make stripey socks for myself, then left on the needles instead of frogging when I decided I didn't actually want to do that with that yarn. It's a dark-grey colorway ** that I'm alternating with a very vibrant blues-through-fuschia-to-red-and-purples variegated one *** that was far too loud by itself (but great alternated with dark/plain. I made a hat out of the same colorway of her Shepherd's Worsted **** , with black alpaca as the main body of the hat, that is absolutely smashing).
** Can't find the name of the colorway just now; it was the closest to black they had in the store, though in person it's more a faintly-variegated very-dark charcoal.
*** Mixed Berries.
**** I still have some of it, and I think I'm going to loosely embroider it onto the edges of this sweater and felt it, if it will felt; I know the sock-weight one won't. Must test first with scraps. If it won't felt, I'll crochet a tiny edging on.

#714 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 03:15 PM:

C. Wingate #711: Drifting a bit, ISTR that the "pimento" used to stuff olives (and used variously in other canapes) is in fact the same type of Capiscum which is dried for paprika.

#715 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 04:34 PM:

Does anyone know if there's any way to get Firefox to break the tabs into multiple rows? I have too many tabs and I hate scrolling them back and forth.

#716 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Xopher @715: I haven't tried this, but it ought to do the trick.

#717 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 05:53 PM:

Thanks Pendrift! That's very helpful. I've installed it.

#718 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 06:03 PM:

#708 Fragano Ledgister

I can match those incredible, hardworking, hard hard hard tediums from our family farm work too. Agriculture and food is like that, isn't it? Particularly if those in charge don't show you the least bit of gratitude or recognition for what you're doing -- especially when they are your own family -- instead it's just do what you're told or else. And the or else is not only harsh, but involves physical punishment, which is taken as the authority's right.

That where maybe Marx and Stalin and the others missed the boat. They could only envision their socialist revolution in terms of the urban industrial proletariat and saw the peasants as much of a class enemy as the capitalist industrial machine.

But my own experience says nothing creates feminism and any other rebel to established authority as fast as agricultural labor.

Love, C.

#719 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Happy Birthday, Constance!

#720 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Joyeux Anniversaire, Constance!

#721 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 09:43 PM:

Happy birthday, Constance!

#722 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:36 PM:

I liked the earliest comment on Patrick's Sidelight, "A Call for a Moratorium on Cranky Old Writers Complaining about the Internet":

But can we also have a moratorium on aggrieved young writers complaining about cranky old writers complaining about the Internet? This shit is so tired.

It's a line of thought I've seen somewhere else. I'm just sure of it.

#723 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Constance #718: Oh, indeed. And a belated happy birthday.

#724 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:17 AM:

And in the comments for the Music-industry sidelight, I found this glorious ZOT! from Cory:


Ah yes, the imaginary legal grey area in which dwells the imaginary violation of the imaginary libel law that would kick in when the imaginary naive reader who can't parse out the meaning of the quote-marks comes along, and whose case is made on the basis of the imaginary reputation for sensationalization.

Thanks, concern troll, for your concern! Your incapacity to grasp the most obvious, basic compositional rhetorical techniques is an inspiration to us all! Bravo for a truly ham-fisted attempt at pedantic, po-faced threadjacking!

Also, the IFPI's mission drift is fascinating, in a traffic-accident kind of way:

IFPI defended its action by saying "Our top priority is to prevent the continued availability of the IFPI Represented Companies' content on the internet."

#725 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:38 AM:

And now, for something completely different... Judi Densch au naturel... in 1969

#726 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Well, I just had to look...  Judi Dench’s training with the Royal Shakespeare Company really shows.  Beautiful diction in that superb voice, the lines clearly and unhurriedly spoken, with every syllable given its worth.  She was then in her early thirties, and she’s still going strong today.  What a talent!

#727 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 01:29 PM:

Three spongs from yesterFriday's Reconnaissance Fly show for your listening pleasure.

#728 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 01:51 PM:

John Stanning @ 726... I just had to look

For Art's sake, of course.

Did you know that, one day, she and Ian McKellen went to a big to-do and one of them pointed to the other that they were in the Throne room? The Macbeth co-stars then snuck behind the curtains and sat on the throne of England.

#729 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Thanks, Serge, for the Judi Dench pointer. I barely recognized her--but that voice! She's one of my favorite actors. On Saturday evenings my local PBS station shows episodes of her British TV series "As Time Goes By" and I watch them, many for the nth time, to get my Judi Dench fix.

#730 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Hey you all -- thanks for the birthday wishes! It was a grand day, also Mardi Gras, so I did up my face with every bit of sparkle, glitter and glowy cosmetics I possess. I also got to spend several hours with Alma Guillermoprieto, and thus am in love again.

If you heard her break down the mimicking at the end of Avatar of the posture of the grieving female student at the sides of the body of the fallen male student, in that famous photo of the Kent State shootings, you would be in love also.

Love, C.

#731 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 02:50 PM:

Janet @ 729... The person to thank really is Elizabeth Hand, who first posted it on her blog. I think I should get some episodes of "As Time Goes By" on NetFlix.

#732 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Janet K #729: Thanks, Serge, for the Judi Dench pointer. I barely recognized her--but that voice!

My favorite radio voice belongs to Fiona Ritchie, from The Thistle and Shamrock show. She does podcasts too, these days.

#733 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 06:01 PM:

Hmm. So, like, remember when street view was just a one time historical thing?
A TED Talk. (warning, loud ad for 15 seconds)

Watch it. It's kinda stunning.

#734 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Re: tabs addon
Something I didn't know I needed, and now feel I couldn't live without.

I prefer the tabs across the top rather than, as they suggest, along the left side.

#735 ::: Terry Karney is just fine ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 07:07 PM:

In case anyone heard about a plane Crash in East Palo Alto. It was about a mile from my house; we didn't know about it until we got to Mountain View (about 10 miles away).

We never lost power.

(p.s. Serge: Marna will be in town when you are. If you are still in town on the 27th [unlikely] there is a party but a Gathering of Light seems perfectly in order).

#736 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 08:38 PM:

Serge at #725:

She can purge my mortal grossness any time!

#737 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Terry Karney is just fine @ 735... Alas, I'll be flying back on Friday, March 19. Still, if you and Marna and others are interested in a mini Gathering that week, let me know. Don't feel obligated, though.

#738 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Terry Karney is just fine @ 735... Alas, I'll be flying back on Friday, March 19. Still, if you and Marna and others are interested in a mini Gathering that week, let me know. Don't feel obligated, though.

#739 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Eric Nelson @ 736... I bet.

#740 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2010, 11:07 PM:

(open threadiness...)

H-Mart, the Asian supermarket in Burlington which replaced Barnes & Noble for the title of most crowded parking lot, amongst its merchandise had a type of root crop called nagaimo, which I was wondering about. I finally remembered to google it, when I was near a computer.

http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/ym_nagaimoz.html has such lines as

Cooking: For most traditional Japanese recipes nagaimo is shredded or grated and used raw or lightly cooked. I find the fine shredding.... You end up with a gooey mush that's slimier than snail snot but do not be discouraged - it cooks quite well...the result is not slimy.

It has been reported that in Japan during the Edo period slippery grated nagaimo was used in the men's baths for purposes beyond the scope of this page.

#741 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Belated birthday wishes, Constance!

#742 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 10:13 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 740: We've been meaning to check out H-mart ever since our local Japanese grocery closed (months ago) but we keep not making it there. Given your comment about the parking lot, I wonder when their most off off-hours are.

And belated birthday wishes to everyone with a recent birthday.

#743 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 11:37 AM:

We're being brought down to New Orleans for the weekend. Friday is tied up with the Title VI-A, UISFL Meeting, "Revolutionary Cuba: Memory, Culture and Politics," co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University.

The rest of the weekend is free for hearing music, seeing friends. Meetups are welcome, whether we've met in rl previously or not.

We're being put up at the Renaissance Perre Marquette.

I find this all -- who is paying for this and where we are staying, and the subject of this mini-forum -- let's say, somewhat of a cultural dissonance, but then this program is administered by those used to 'treating' the right, so hosteling or bunking with friends isn't on their radar.

Love, C.

#744 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 11:38 AM:

The latest from the Annals of Improbable Research..

Bras as weapons against Terrorism

Seeing Paul Krugman wear a bra in a public setting makes last year's worldcon interview of him by Charles Stross seem rather tame.

#745 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 11:41 AM:

We're being brought down to New Orleans for the weekend. Friday is tied up with the Title VI-A, UISFL Meeting, "Revolutionary Cuba: Memory, Culture and Politics," co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University.

Serendipitously, since that is what New Orleans is about, John Loomis, who is involved in the opera being created on Alma Guillermoprieto's time covered in her memoir, Dancing With Cuba, and titled from Loomis's own book dealing with architecture in Cuba during this era, "Revolution With Forms, is also participating in this forum.

The rest of the weekend is free for hearing music, seeing friends. Meetups are welcome, whether we've met in rl previously or not.

We're being put up at the Renaissance Perre Marquette.

I find this all -- who is paying for this and where we are staying, and the subject of this mini-forum -- let's say, somewhat of a cultural dissonance, but then this program is administered by those used to 'treating' the right, so hosteling or bunking with friends isn't on their radar.

Love, C.

#746 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Apologies for the above double post -- have no idea how that happened!

Love, C.

#747 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Pilot flies private plane into IRS office building in Austin.

They're saying "no connections to terrorism", but I will bet a tidy sum that a proper investigation would show this guy has been listening to a lot of hate radio, with its violence-against-the-government drumbeat. And if so, that moves it into the category of "domestic terrorism" IMO.

#748 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:06 PM:

Lee, Saw this a few minutes ago on the roiginal website, but it's been pulled now and is at the smokinggun: Pilot's online diatribe.

I'm not sure how it's not terrorism by the current definitions. Other than the guy's not brown and he's american.

#749 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:07 PM:

#747: Yup, anti-tax rant & raver:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2010/02/18/internet_note_posted_by_man_li.html

"And if so, that moves it into the category of "domestic terrorism" IMO"

Nawwww! If he has a name like "Joe" and complains about taxes, he's a freedom fighter!

There'll probably be a country song about him by the weekend.

#750 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:16 PM:

#747: Yup, anti-tax rant & raver:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2010/02/18/internet_note_posted_by_man_li.html

"And if so, that moves it into the category of "domestic terrorism" IMO"

Nawwww! If he has a name like "Joe" and complains about taxes, he's a freedom fighter!

There'll probably be a country song about him by the weekend.

#751 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:26 PM:

#747: Yup, anti-tax rant & raver:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2010/02/18/internet_note_posted_by_man_li.html

"And if so, that moves it into the category of "domestic terrorism" IMO"

Nawwww! If he has a name like "Joe" and complains about taxes, he's a freedom fighter!

There'll probably be a country song about him by the weekend.

#752 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 03:30 PM:

Whoops! My browser presented me with a false-positive "Internal Server Error 500" message.

#753 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 04:01 PM:

Regarding the student arrested for doodling on her desk (from TNH's particles):

This happened a day or so after a 1st grader in another NYC school was suspended for bringing a LEGO machine gun to school (he and his friends liked to play LEGOs at lunchtime). The weapon was less than 2 inches long.

The middle school in question in the arrest case is one of two in my neighborhood, though not the one my daughter attends. I know parents and children at that school and a couple of the teachers. This is a newish principal but previously hasn't been observed to be crazy. The police precinct is literally across the street from the school, fwiw.

This is not a middle school that is known for violence, gang activity, "troubled students," or anything like that. Though overcrowded, it's a good school.

Everyone I know is just boggled by this.

#754 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Stefan Jones #751: Nawwww! If he has a name like "Joe" and complains about taxes, he's a freedom fighter!

Sounds like a typical Teabagger to me.

#755 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Earl Cooley #754/Stefan Jones #s 750/751: How many right wing nuts end their rants by contrasting communist equity with capitalist greed? This fellow did.

#756 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 07:26 PM:

Fragano, #755: That sounded to me as if he was saying that capitalism was no better than communism -- not an endorsement of the latter so much as a rejection of both.

#757 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Lee #756: You're probably right.

#758 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Lee #756: You're probably right.

#760 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 09:59 PM:

Dani Shapiro in the LA Times: A writing career becomes harder to scale.

"Authors used to expect to struggle as they gained experience. But now it is sell -- or else."

#762 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Of interest to fans of John Ford's The Dragon Waiting, among others:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/leicestershire/8523386.stm

A different site has been determined to be the actual location for the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Henry Tudor's forces defeated and killed Richard Plantagenet.

#763 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 05:02 PM:

http://www.strandbeest.com/film.html
weird wind powered walking machines that have mechanical feedback built in.

#764 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 07:40 PM:

Serge @ 737 & 738:

I can haz a Serge?! I assure you, I regard this as obligatory, though not at all as an obligation.

#765 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 08:16 PM:

Happy B-day Rikibeth!

OT: I just helped my Mom set up her new Universal Remote, a Harmony One from Logitech. I was very impressed -- it took a bunch of brand names and model numbers, and automatically downloaded the codes, and even when we got a couple of the setting wrong, the remote's Help mode was able to figure out what was up and fix it.

#766 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 09:19 PM:

Happy Birthday, Rikibeth! Did you see the icon Serge picked for you on his LJ?

#767 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Marna Nightingale @ 764... Good, good.

#768 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Serge @725
Thank you. I've seen Judi Densch in recent movies and tv, and become enchanted with her eyes. I wanted to know what she looked like when she was younger. Her eyes were just as beautiful then as they are now.

The rest of that video? I had the sound off.

#769 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 01:39 AM:

Peter Sagal just said that the First Law of Thermodynamics is "You do not talk about thermodynamics."

#770 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 02:08 AM:

serge at 744:
please put on your own mask before assisting others

#771 ::: tw ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 02:41 AM:

768 Lin,
It takes some sifting but there are stills from Judi's stage days.

such as these

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 03:11 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 770... That supposes I'd be carrying one with me when the need arises and I'll have you know I don't need such support. :-)

#773 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 06:43 AM:

Fans of Atonmic Robo rejoice!
"Atomic Robo and the Revenge of the Vampire Dimension" came out one week early.

"Define scientific catastrophe."
#774 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 07:30 AM:

I was skimming the Judi Dench chronology (a link from the photos page mentioned in 771). What an amazing career! I noticed that one of the audio books she's recorded is A Wizard of Earthsea (1997).

#775 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 01:40 PM:

I learn from a BBC radio interview that Judi Dench is playing Titania again, in a stage production by Peter Hall, who directed the 1968 film.  The interviewee was the actress playing Helena:  Rachael Stirling, daughter of Diana Rigg who was Helena in the film.

The venue is the Rose Theatre, designed after an Elizabethan theatre of the same name which was in London not far from the site of the famous Globe;  the modern version is for some reason located in Kingston upon Thames, an uninspiring suburb south-west of London.

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 04:19 PM:

For some reason, the front page's list of recent posters is italicized.

#777 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 04:30 PM:

I'm reading ML today by virtue of the Internet Room at Furry Fiesta in Dallas. This is proving to be a fun and interesting con, much more like an SF con than an anime con although it has elements of both. And it's really nice to have a place to check my e-mail and browse a bit without having to pay the hotel's exortionate charge for wi-fi.

#778 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 06:25 PM:

I came across an article on The Believer's website which reminded me of the discussion a while back on the perhaps dubious "everyone is writing a book" quotation: The Ancient Roman Reading Craze.

The satirist Juvenal listed recitationes amongst the health hazards of living in Rome—apart from building collapses, disease, and fires, citizens had to worry about dying from boredom. Other great authors, from Horace to Petronius and Seneca, agreed: Public readings were the plague of the Empire.
#779 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 06:31 PM:

AKICIML rhetorical question (no, not that kind!) -- is there a name for the rhetorical trope of substituting a word with a non-transitive meaning for the word one was looking for? A friend was saying that her mother once used the term "lint" when attempting to refer to the police. Now, for approximate purposes, "lint" = "fuzz", and "fuzz" = "police", but "lint" =/= "police". It's clearly a form of malapropism, I'm sure it's been around for a long time, I expect it has a name -- but I'm not coming up with the name and would have no idea how to search on it other than scanning through lists of malaprops. Poisoned transit-ivyty?

#780 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 10:14 PM:

Thanks for the birthday wishes! I was traveling, so I didn't see them until now, but I did indeed have a very happy birthday.

#781 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2010, 11:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore, #779, UKans do that. I had to have it explained to me on rasff a while back. I don't think they have a word for it, though.

#782 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:00 AM:

Rikibeth, there's certainly a similar thing in rhyming slang. That's working with sound rather than sense. Interesting to hear that they do it with sense as well!

#783 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I had the TV on to the "Swing & Singers" music station today and, upon seeing a picture of an older Benny Goodman, I was reminded of A.E van Vogt. If I could write fiction, I'd ask "What if van Vogt had been a Big Band musician?"

#784 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:17 AM:

Serge, Howard Waldrop wrote a story called "Ike at the Mike," in which Eisenhower was a big-band leader. If you haven't read it, you should.

#785 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:59 AM:

#762 Clifton

Does that mean that treasure hunters are going to be looking in different places for the lost treasury of Richard III?

#786 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:59 AM:

TexAnne @ 784... I think I heard of that one. I'll have to look it up. Say, wasn't there an alternate-History tale in which Castro never became Cuba's ruler because he was a baseball player in San Francisco?

#787 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 02:07 AM:

"Southpaw," by Bruce McAllister, published in the Dozois/Schmidt anthology "Roads Not Taken" (and elsewhere).

#788 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 02:13 AM:

#786 Serge

There was a DAW anthology entitled I think Alternate Presidents

#789 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 08:22 AM:

Tom Whitmore @779 -- That sounds like an example of verbal paraphasia (scroll down). (Not that making the occasional word substitution like that is indicative of a problem.)

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 09:53 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 788... Right. That's the one. Thanks for the reminder.

#791 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 10:04 AM:

Re: rhyming slang

Random brain moments have been spent on what the original phrase could have been for "blind pig", referring to a cheap gin joint.

That finally came enough to the forefront to look up. Instead of some quaint Scots or Irish or East End source, Wikipedia (yeah, yeah) says it's from the Volstead Act days, when selling booze was illegal, but you could offer an attraction for a charge and throw in a "free" beer or shot of gin.

Conflating that with the "lint = fuzz" post, how about inventing terms for words or common phrases? This would be the place.

#792 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 10:11 AM:

and, since this is an Open Thread, the LA Times interviews Kim Stanley Robinson this morning.

#793 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 11:24 AM:

Debbie @789 -- yes, that's definitely what it's a type of (but note that it falls between what they call "semantic" and "remote", in that the type-connection is not obvious, as in some bits of rhyming slang where the rhyme is to a non-present word). There are clearly degrees of remoteness available.

Well, I'm glad it wasn't an obvious word that my brain just wasn't finding!

#794 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Open-threadiness cookware question:
I've just bought an enameled cast-iron casserole dish because I want to try some heat-box cooking.

The instructions are in French and German. I've done my best with the French, and I've worked out the "before first use" instructions (wash in hot water, cover the inside with oil, heat on a low heat for several minutes, allow to cool) but I'm still not sure whether I'm supposed to clean it using hot water only or hot water and dish-washing liquid (it says not to use detergents, but another name for dish washing liquid is dish washing detergent).

Anyone familiar with this sort of cookware who can help? The text in French but without accents (apologies) is below:

Entretien
Le nettoyage se fait aven un produit vaisselle classique et une eponge. Rincez ensuite a l'eau chaude. Bien essuyer votre produit et le laisser
secher a l'air avant de la ranger. Ne pas employer de produits abrasifs ni de detergents.

#795 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 01:08 PM:

#794: Clean with dish soap and a sponge. Rinse with hot water. Wipe off thoroughly and let air-dry before putting it away. Do not use abrasives or detergents.

#796 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 01:49 PM:

TexAnne @ 795.
Thanks, that's basically what I got. I'm still wondering what the French difference is between "dish soap" and "detergent". I'm guessing that by "detergent" they are meaning the stuff used for washing floors, worktops etc. Beacuse as far as I'm concerned, dish-washing liquid is a detergent. Which makes the instructions confusing (use hot water and detergent, don't use abrasives or detergents)...

#797 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 01:51 PM:

No, you can still get dish *soap* in France--that's the "classique" part, like savon de Marseille or something.

#798 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 02:00 PM:

dcb @794: TexAnne covered pretty much everything; I just wanted to add a detail. Ordinary dishwashing liquid is OK, but don't use power cleansers or stubborn-stain cleaners like Cillit Bang. Basically, they want you to stick to a product that won't attack the enamel. If it's a Staub, here are some more tips.

#799 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I recall there are some slightly different procedures for cast-iron cookware. I think the key term is "proving".

It's that business with the oil and low heat.

#800 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 02:39 PM:

Dave Bell @799, enameled cast-iron shouldn't need seasoning!

I have Le Creuset pots that have been in regular use since 1991. I've used assorted liquid dishwashing soaps on them, as well as scrubbing devices of varied scratchiness, and they're still in fine shape. My only suggestion is not to use them in a wood campfire when you've instructed the young SCA fighters building it that it should be "hot." At least not without testing by holding a hand over the coals and counting. I was attempting to make skillet pizza, but the young men built me a fire hot enough to bubble the enamel off the pan.

#801 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 03:44 PM:

Rikibeth #800:

An issue that surfaced here a couple of weeks ago (while my husband was having a fit of organizational enthusiasm for no-knead bread) was the discovery that Le Creuset dutch oven lids have phenolic knobs, and thus are not really rated for much over 350-375F; above that, they can sort of melt. (You can get replacement metal knobs, apparantly.)

#802 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 03:49 PM:

TexAnne, Pendrift, Dave Bell, Rikibeth:

Thanks, all of you. I'm afraid what I've bought is a cheap and probably inferior product (Baumalu Elo) from a remainders store, but I didn't fancy paying out for Le Creuset or similarly-priced until I was sure I would use the thing on a reasonably frequent basis. It's a 22cm oval casserole dish, with lid, definitely enameled, and it definitely said to heat with oil first: At the first use, rinse your item enameled cast iron under hot water. Cover all the interior with a layer of cooking oil. Heat over low heat for few minutes. Allow to cool. The oil has penetrated the pores of the enamel so that your food will not stick. To use a clean plate induction, be sure to raise the temperature gradually.

(or in French, and apologies again for the absence of accents: "Conseils D'utilisation.
Lors de la premiere utilisation, rincez votre article en fonte emaillee sous l'eau chaude. Recouvrez ensuit tout i'enterieue d'une couche d'huile alimentaire. Faites chauffer a feu doux pendeant quelques minutes. Laissez refroidir. L'huile aura penetre les pores de l'email ce qui permettra a vos aliments de ne pas attacher . Pour une utilisation pur plaque a induction, veillez a faire monter progressivement la temperature.")

Pendrift, particular thanks for confirming my guess about what I can and cannot use for cleaning it. Also thanks for the link.

Any other hints anyone has about using it for cooking, or suggestions for websites to go to, gratefully received. The only recipe I'm thinking about now is a vegetarian cholent with butter beans, barley and onion in vegetable stock, topped with sliced potato.

#803 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 04:32 PM:

dcb @802: There's a typo in the French instructions, and it should be "Pour une utilisation pour plaque à induction, veillez à faire monter progressivement la température."

In other words, you have to increase the heat gradually in order to prep the dish for first use if you will be using an induction stovetop.

#804 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 05:02 PM:

Pendrift @ 803: Thanks again. Our stove is gas, so I wasn't too worried about the induction instructions, but it's nice to know. Actually, it's my typo (started off as "sur", not "pur" and I failed to notice. How I typed a "p" rather than an "s" I've absolutely no idea.

It's going to be nice, when recipes say to e.g. saute onions in a flame-proof dish, being able to do that, rather than having to do the initial cooking in a saucepan then transfer everything to a Pyrex dish for the cooking-in-the-oven section - less to wash up!

#805 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 05:30 PM:

It's going to be nice, when recipes say to e.g. saute onions in a flame-proof dish, being able to do that, rather than having to do the initial cooking in a saucepan then transfer everything to a Pyrex dish for the cooking-in-the-oven section - less to wash up!

And this is why I love the Demeyere pots and pans we got on sale last year. I can use them on my stovetop and in the oven. I can cook steaks without using oil or butter and have better results than with a stovetop grill. Seems like the only thing I can't use them for is a pie. They weren't cheap, but they're definitely deep value items.

#806 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 05:47 PM:

I do have a set of decent stainless steel, thick-bottomed saucepans and frying pan. But they're all for stovetop use, with long handles which are not suitable for use in the oven. They have fantastic lids - glass tops, about a 2cm deep rim which goes into the pan and has two perforated sections, one with larger holes than the other, for draining off water, and a heat-proof handle.

Our wok, which is (or rather was) non-stick, needs replacing. Anyone got suggestions? We were wondering about going for a more traditional surface, rather than eating bits of Teflon...

#807 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 06:05 PM:

@806

When we merged kitchens we ended up with two teflon woks (of different sizes) and a traditional one. The only headache with the traditional one is that it does require being oiled IMMEDIATELY after cleaning or it starts to get rust spots.

#808 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 06:48 PM:

What kind of oil is used for wok protection? Wouldn't it go rancid if you don't use it frequently enough?

#809 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 07:46 PM:

I seem to have found out what happened to Corningware pots--the type usable ontop of and inside stoves--I've recently seen "Made in France" Luminarc pots which have the same characteristics, and resemble what Corning had made (before Dow-Corning went bankrupt and the market for glass fiber optic cable tanked and "World Kitchens" bought out the brand names of Corning and at least some of its products line for kitchenware....)
(I uncordially mostly detest the "stonewear" made in China which claims the Corning brand name... I especially detest the fake "French White" designation of it...)

#810 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 09:21 PM:

@Earl and woks - We mostly just use whatever vegetable oil is to hand. We're talking a very, very thin layer here - if it did go bad, it would burn off in the process of heating up the wok for cooking.

For cast iron we use vegetable shortening. Or cook some bacon.

#811 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Speaking of enamelware, does anybody know what the appropriate thing to use for touchups might be? I've come by a one-cup teapot that should be fine to travel with, but there are some rust spots inside, which I'd rather avoid enlarging.

#812 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:01 AM:

xeger @811: This thread suggests using oil to keep rust from spreading. Enamel touchup paint is a no-no.

#813 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:11 AM:

xeger @ 811: Since the "enamel" coating of enamelware is actually a type of glass, fused over a (usually metal) substrate, any surface repairs that don't involve a kiln are likely to be temporary and makeshift at best.

ISTR having seen enamel "repair kits" which consisted of a small bottle of liquid material (with brush applicator attached to the inside of the cap, much like automobile touch-up paint, or "Wite-Out" type typewriter correction fluid). The few examples of results I've seen, from uses of this type of mateial, did not fill me with confidence.

#814 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:20 AM:

I'm not sure oil would be appropriate for the inside of a teapot - in fact I'm pretty sure it wouldn't.

xeger, depending on how much of a purist you are, have you considered investing in a mug with either a mesh or a ceramic (with holes!) tea infuser, and lid? You brew the tea in the mug, which has been converted into teapot, then turn the lid over and use it as a dripstand for the infuser part while you drink your tea. I've got two of the ceramic mugs-with-infusers, one a souvenir from St Petersburg, the other with a wonderful dragon and phoenix design on it. The mesh ones are of course lighter weight for travelling, and with the ceramic ones you have to be a bit careful or you get hot water bubbling up suddenly.

Having more than one is nice so you don't transfer e.g. chai black tea flavour into jasmine green tea or oolong.

#815 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:48 AM:

dcb @815: I'm a big fan of tea socks. They're easy to put away, great for travel, and work with mugs and pots.

#816 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:22 AM:

Can coffee be brewed as if it were tea, in a tea sock?

#817 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:24 AM:

Pendrift @ 815: I've not seen those before. Might be useful for travelling; I'll have to look for them next time I'm in a proper tea shop. Given the number of mugs of tea I drink during the day when I'm home (and I work from home a lot), I'd need a whole little drying line of them - at least the mesh and ceramic ones can be easily rinsed and instantly refilled.

And do they take on the smell/flavour of the tea? I drink a wide range of flavoured black teas, green teas and rooibos, as well as other herbal infusions (fennel, rosehip, lemon & ginger, peppermint etc.) and I would think it wouldn't work to use the same "sock" for e.g. cinnamon black tea then lemon green tea (even after rinsing and drying)?

#818 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:57 AM:

Earl Cooley III @816: Yes, some shops sell them as "coffee socks." In my experience, results vary depending on the material (natural vs synthetic) and the type of coffee. Don't use the same sock for tea and coffee, though, because the oils from the coffee will mess with the taste of the tea.

dcb @817: Rinsing with hot water usually suffices, and you can use them even when they're wet. I do use one for black teas and another one for green teas and infusions, but smell/flavor leaching hasn't been a problem. I have about a dozen looseleaf tea blends at home at any one time, from plain Darjeeling to heavily-spiced chai* blends.

*Fans of chai may want to try this recipe.

#819 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:42 AM:

Help! Our toaster has broken down and I am in urgent need of contemplating the poem by Thomas Dish which reads (approximately):


Breathes there a man with soul so dead
He has no to his toaster said
...
{many words ommitted}
...
Not too dark, and not too light.


Google has failed me. Who will help me in my hour of need?

#820 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:31 AM:

Pendrift @ 818: well, I'll have to look out for one.

The chai sounds interesting, but I usually drink my tea without milk or any sugar - not sure if it would still work.

Loose-leaf, I have about a dozen different black teas and half a dozen green teas, plus oolong and an orange-and-cinnamon rooibos. In bags I have about another 15 black teas, eight green teas, four rooibos (including plain) and 25 or 30 herb or fruit infusions.

There are about a dozen or so which I drink regularly, with some changing by season (chai, cinnamon and liquorice teas are winter teas, to me). I start every morning with a large mug of my favourite wild cherry tea, a black loose-leaf tea which I can only get from the tea & coffeee stall in the Cambridge (UK) market.

#821 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 08:29 AM:

Well, I did just see a Thai coffee kit available online that included a brewing sock, but their plan for coffee making seems to include entirely too much sugar. I never did get into dessert-style coffees (with the notable exception of the classic Arby's Jamocha Shake, back in the day).

#822 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 08:56 AM:

dcb @ 814 ...
xeger, depending on how much of a purist you are, have you considered investing in a mug with either a mesh or a ceramic (with holes!) tea infuser, and lid?

I have several, actually :) This is for travel though, and I'm notoriously NOT a morning person -- the intent is to have the first cup of tea in a cup, going into me, while the second cup is brewing...

#823 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Earl Cooley III #816: sure, but you probably don't want to leave it brewing for any length of time.

Steve Taylor #819: A weak anti-recommendation: I have a "Toastmaster" brand toaster. This boasts a mark on the dial for "Pop Tarts"™" -- unfortunately, the rest of the toaster is not designed for such confections -- they often get stuck next to the lifters.

#824 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:23 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 816 ...
Can coffee be brewed as if it were tea, in a tea sock?

Yes -- camp coffee is often brewed by throwing the coffee grounds tied up in something into a pot of cold water, and putting both over a fire.

Of course there's a reason one tends to put fair amounts of cream-like substance and sweetener in that sort of coffee...

#825 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:37 AM:

All Knowledge Is Contained in Making Light:

I've got a techie query, and Googling it is blocked by "false friends". Downloading stuff from the net, I've turned up some archived directory trees which contain subdirectories named ".comment", in turn containing files with ".xml" extensions. Now, while the purpose is obvious, these .xml files contain only binary data, unreadable.

Does anyone here know what program is responsible for producing or maintaining these .comment directories? (I've tried nautilus, didn't see anything.)

#826 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:42 AM:

xeger @ 824: There are such things as coffee bags (like tea bags, not like 250 or 500 gram foil bags) made by Lyons, as in Lyons Coffee Houses, as in LEO and early commercial computing. They are allegedly much better than instant coffee, and useful for backpacking or camping.

#827 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 11:36 AM:

What I want is quick-drying reusable tea bag - something that looks vaguely like a normal tea bag, is made of fine mesh like in the mesh infusers, clips closed for use and then can be emptied, rinsed, dried on a piece of kitchen roll or similar and packed away immediately - maybe in its own holder. But I want something that basically folds flat (unlike a normal infuser) and is reusable (like the tea sock Pendrift indicated) and can be dried quickly. I've just found some patterns online for cotton or muslin versions, which fit in everything excet the quick-drying bit, and I have some muslin, so I supoose I might try sewing one.

#828 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 11:42 AM:

Steve Taylor @ 819: I can't find either of the two printed copies I should have of that poem, but I found it in comments here:

Lives there a man with soul so dead
He's never to his toaster said:
“You are my friend; I see in you
An object sturdy, staunch, and true;
A fellow mettlesome and trim;
A brightness that the years can't dim.”?
Then let us praise the brave appliance
In which we place this just reliance.
And offer it with each fresh slice
Such words of friendship and advice
As “How are things with you tonight?”
Or “Not too dark but not too light.”

--Thomas M. Disch

#829 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 12:21 PM:

john @826: Do they sell coffee pads (or coffee pods) for Senseo machines in the US? Those look a lot like them. Senseos are very popular in Benelux, and generic coffee pads can be had in every supermarket. I don't get the impression they've penetrated the US market much, though.

dcb @827: Another solution (not reusable, unfortunately, but biodegradable) would be to use tea filters like these. They're fairly easy to find around here; I suspect that'd also be the case in the UK.

#830 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 12:36 PM:

Pendrift @ 829: At least they're somewhat cheaper than the ones I've seen for sale in a tea shop. Still more expensive than I want to pay for disposables - I'd better go find the muslin.

#831 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 12:50 PM:

What is it with all the dutch ovens--and saucepan-type things--with glass lids that have suddenly appeared? Can you really use them at high heat?

#832 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 12:59 PM:

xeger@824 replied [to Earl Cooley III @ 816, "Can coffee be brewed as if it were tea, in a tea sock?"]: Yes -- camp coffee is often brewed by throwing the coffee grounds tied up in something into a pot of cold water, and putting both over a fire.

Also, I would presume the parameters of coffee-socking to be similar to what you need/get with a French press -- in terms of drip fineness and steeping times and the like.

#833 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 01:01 PM:

dcb @827--Have you considered tulle? Not only should it dry fairly quickly, given the nature of it, you could make a good-sized bag to give the tea plenty of room to bloom, and still pack the bag in a fairly small space. Even if it's nylon instead of silk, the melting point is still above the boiling point of water.

#834 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 01:04 PM:

re 827: You might want to take a look at a commercial jelly bag. Obviously a bit of overkill if left whole, but I'm sure you could cut 3-4 cup/pot-sized bags from one. Some are made from a fine mesh that rinses out easily and dries quickly.

#835 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:01 PM:

joann @ 831: Saucepans with glass lids are fine, whatever the heat (don't put the lid down on one of the burners).

Shorter answer: Pyrex

fidelio @ 833, C. Wingate @ 834: good suggestions - the jelly bag in particular (which I would never have thought of because I didn't know it existed. I have the muslin for straining sloe gin through). And if it's nylon-type mesh, I should be able to heat-seal the edges, if I'm careful - Thanks!

#836 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:26 PM:

tw @771

Thank you.


Pendrift @818
Love chai. Thanks.

#837 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:33 PM:

827/833
Nylon organza? Finer mesh than tulle.
(Nichols Grden Nursery has fill-your-own paper tea bags, and two sizes of infusers.)

#838 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:43 PM:

dcb #835:

But for baking applications I assume the not-over-425F rule applies?

#839 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Thena@807: If your wok rusts before the next use...you're not using it often enough :-). More likely, you live in a much wetter climate than I do. Mine sometimes goes months without a problem (it's also now seasoned to the point where the main body might not rust in years, though, come to think of it).

I don't believe that teflon will adhere to metal at the temperatures needed for actual stir-frying....

#840 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Lee@759: Thank you for the link to that video! (sonic boom disrupts sundog). Haven't seen one like that before. Much appreciated!

#841 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:26 PM:

>Tim Walters @828 writes:

> I can't find either of the two printed copies I should have of that poem, but I found it in comments here:

Thanks Tim - you're a lifesaver.

(Written from my toastless breakfast table)

#842 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:26 PM:

joann @ 838

Sorry, I've no idea. I've had Pyrex dishes in an oven as high as gas mark 7 or possibly 8. However a quick online seach using a well-known search engine suggested that modern Pyrex might not be what it used to be.

I know the (glass) lids of my saucepans are guaranteed for 20 years unless I drop them or do something silly like put one on top of the gas burner while it's on.

But there are much more experienced cooks on ML who may be able to assist you further.

P J Evans @ 837
I've no more than a vague idea what tulle or organza look like (why no, I'm not a sewing person, how did you guess?), nor do I have a drapery store nearby where I could go look for some - but I do have a couple of kitchen stores in the area which are likely to have the jelly bags, so I'll probably go with that.

#843 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:46 PM:

dcb @842 -- re: tulle/organza, think "wedding gown" or "ballerina's tutu" -- thin sheer floaty fabric. (And sometimes a window treatment, "sheers.")

In a tutu, it is usually several layers; in the wedding gown it varies, it may be several layers on its own or under lace; also, it can be layers over a more substantial fabric (silk, satin). A lot of the "mermaid" wedding dresses use this.

#844 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:48 PM:

dcb #842:

I had begun to realize that the pyrex rule seemed to be inconsistent; we finally got round this week to calibrating our newish electric oven, and discovered that it was running 20F above what it was set to, and that--worse--somebody had deliberately set it that way before we took possession of the house. (It's been unset.) I've been suffering retroactive alarm about my pyrex baking dishes ever since, as I set the oven for 420 for several things for which I use them. Only they've been getting 440.

And once, many years ago, I had a pyrex dish spontaneously break in the oven and dump pork chops all over the place. Room-temperature dish, 425F. (Hence the 420F setting.)

#845 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 03:56 PM:

dcb, #820: Don't even think about trying that recipe without milk and sugar! I never understood why people would put milk in their tea until I discovered the strong Indian chai teas. Sugar alone doesn't do it, either; and I can actually use considerably less sugar if it has enough milk in it. (Side note: this has also given me a better understanding of why people drink coffee, not that I would want it even now.)

#846 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:11 PM:

joann, I once had a Pyrex dish spontaneously shatter in the cupboard, at room temperature. Just for a data point.

#847 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:34 PM:

re the cookware:

Enamelware (Staub, Le Creuset, Dansk) are not "cast iron," under the meaning of the act. They are glass over metal, often cast-iron, sometimes steel or aluminum.

Clean them as you would any pan; avoiding abrasives, and keeping caustics to a minimum. The edge of the lid/pan will have a small amount of exposed metal. This is to keep the chipping to a minumum (Staub just redesigned the lid, to reduce rattling, and this ought to reduce chipping).

Cast Iron, as used, is a chunk of iron, poured into a mold and sold. It needs to be washed before first use (because it is usually coated with something to prevent rust) and then seasoned.

Lodge sells, "pre-seasoned" this is true, so far as it goes, but I still season new cast iron, even when they tell me it doesn't need it.

Seasoning is a lacquer, thin layers of dried oil laid over the metal. To get it you heat the oil; pretty much to the smoke point, and let it cool. To thick a layer will get gummy. Too thin isn't possible (once the season is on).

To season: Take the pan/pot, and coat it with olive, or grapeseed oil (I prefer grapeseed, it's harder). Turn it upside down in a warm (about 350F) oven. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Take it out, let it cool.

Repeat that three, or four times.

To clean it.

Cook something. Remove the food, leaving the pan on the stove; turning the fire to high.

Add enough water to put about 1/3rd of an inch in the pan. It will flah boil, and bubble and steam. Stir with a flat-edged utensil (preferably of wood), to remove any food sticking to the pan.

Pour out the water, wipe the pan with a light coat of oil. If there are spots which seem dull, put it back on the fire, and let it get hot again. Add more water. The dull spots will boil, scrub those areas.

Drain, wipe, and allow to cool.

That's it. The surface of the pan got to about 400 degrees, bacteria that can survive that, aren't causing problems when you ingest them.

If anyone has specific questions... I can answer those too. Buying older cast iron is a skill, though there are some easy to spot deals.

#848 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:56 PM:

That PA case where the school used webcams to spy on students at home is getting a full-on FBI investigation. This should be Interesting.

#849 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Re: brewing loose leaf tea

Have you considered going old school and brewing your tea in a small ceramic pot? If you're using good quality whole leaf tea and the pot has a narrow spout, only very small bits of leaf get through; I don't think it's noticeably different than bagged tea. Not to mention that the small pot allows you to control brew times and temperature more closely, if you're into that sort of thing. (Can you tell I'm a tea geek? Well, embryonic stage.)

Ceramic pots will (and should) pick up flavors of the tea you brew, so you might prefer using a glass or porcelain pot if you're going to be brewing a variety of different teas and tisanes.

#850 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:03 PM:

Tulle is the stuff with the fine hexagonal mesh - wedding veils and tutus, yes. It's a machine-made version of a bobbin lace ground.
Organza is woven, so it looks like any other sheer fabric (and is easier to deal with than tulle, at least for sewing).

#851 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:10 PM:

re cookware: My day job and my hangout overlap.

joann: most of those pans are fine for the stove. Some are fine for the oven. Handles are usually the point of failure.

regarding seasoning: if the oil is fine enough (grapeseed, again), and the layer thin enough, rancidity in the still liquid aspects of the oil isn't really a problem. If it is off, the heat of prepping the wok will burn it off.

If a skillet/pan of the more traditional sort goes rancid, a 450F oven for 20 minutes, and then a quick coat to touch up, will fix it.

Re teflon and heat. It will adhere, but the problem is the thinness of the pan. Local areas get hot enough that they expand too much, in comparison to other areas, and the teflon separates.

Some of the newer non-stick coatings (as with Scanpan's titanium-ceramic) would probably hold up, but they aren't making woks.


#852 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:30 PM:

788, Paula: "There was a DAW anthology entitled I think Alternate Presidents"

Not DAW, Tor. I was the acquiring editor, and I was one of at least two or three people who all simultaneously had the same idea for the cover. (Barclay Shaw wound up painting it.)

Mike Resnick did several further alternate this-and-that anthologies for us, of which Alternate Kennedys was probably the best.

#853 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Pendrift @ 829: I'm UK, not US - apologies for the confusion!

However, if it helps, the UK has not only Senseo but also Nespresso. I wish it didn't.

#854 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 05:35 PM:

@tea bags of the apolitical variety:

I bought some muslin reusable tea bags some years ago when I was too lazy to make them. I found they worked okay but tended to float badly, and I think something with a looser weave (gauze perhaps?) would have been better. The muslin bags are, however, absolutely fabulous for containing (and keeping debris out of) the soap while camping.

@cookware:

The traditional wok came with the husband and gets used for proper (high-heat) stir fry. The teflon woks get used as oversized skillets (medium heat). The traditional doesn't get "deep rust" so much as it just gets streaky if not oiled within an hour (or less) of being cleaned, but since it's his wok, it's his problem :-)

#855 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Terry Karney: ah, exactly the person I was hoping would come into this conversation re. cookware - much more knowledgeable than I am.

Lori Coulson @ 843, P J Evans @ 850: Okay, now I know what tulle is, and I think I know which one organza is.

joann @ 844: who would want to set the oven to be deliberately wrong? Takes all sorts, I suppose.

845 ::: Lee @ 845: thanks re. the chai. Now I've an idea what's wrong with the new (to me) brand of chai tea bags I got recently - probably meant to be drunk with milk & sugar. There's a taste to it which I normally associate only with bog-standard "tea bag tea".

heresiarch @ 849: yes, but I've never met a teapot which didn't drip/lose tea down the spout (at least while I was using it) and I find them a pain to get the tea leaves out of. And if you make the tea in the mug you're going to use to drink it from, it's the right amount of water.

#856 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:17 PM:

Terry, thanks for current seasoning recommendations (I seem to recall it being important to use solid fat, preferably lard, last time I read up on the subject which was in the 1970s). I like your approach better (and that pan from the 1970s is in good enough shape that I don't spend a lot of time working on its seasoning).

A non-stick coating that could survive stir-frying would be at worst harmless. But I've never had any sticking problems in a wok, even when I was new to it (again, in the 1970s). So it's not a high priority for me. I'm still using two cheap rolled-steel woks bought at I think different chinese groceries here in Minneapolis in the 1970s and 1980s.

#857 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:24 PM:

dcb #855:

My guess is it was set at the factory as part of testing, and never unset.

#858 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:26 PM:

I received a 12" Lodge skillet as a wedding present, and the pre-seasoning on it seemed to work OK without any further prep by me. (This is good, as I'm a lazy sort.) I clean it by running hot water over it and scrubbing it with a brush, no soap, then toweling it dry and rubbing a small amount of vegetable oil into it with a paper towel. This is more or less what the instructions that came with it recommended. No problems so far, although it's only been a few months.

#859 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Xopher #846:

Now that is a great example of the Evil Perversity of Inanimate Objects.

#860 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:28 PM:

Xopher #846:

Now that is a great example of the Evil Perversity of Inanimate Objects.

#861 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:32 PM:

Oh, eep. It gave me a server error page the first time. Appy-loggies.

#862 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 06:58 PM:

joann @ 861: But it was so beautifully self-referential! *

[*] At least if you consider webservers to be inanimate; no offense intended, and please don't lose my comment...

#863 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 08:38 PM:

More open-threadiness: the New Yorker profiles Nobel-winning economist and SF convention attender Paul Krugman.

"Sitting up onstage at the science-fiction convention, Krugman looked happy to be there. It seemed that these were, in some worrying sense, his people."

#864 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 09:29 PM:

@83 They say that as if it were a bad thing? *blink*

#865 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:08 PM:

dcb, #827, this doesn't exactly fold flat, but it's smaller than most. I travel with mine inside the mug I drink from.

#866 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Alan@863, Krugman's really been getting around - he even got space to do the cover blurb on one of Charlie Stross's recent books :-)

#867 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:23 PM:

Yes, Thena, the New York Times is all snooty about any hobby that isn't for cool rich people. The asshole writer of that article, Larissa MacFarquhar, fits right in.

#868 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:28 PM:

On cooking pots - my mother's still using the ones she had 40 years ago. I think they're Revereware, but copper bottoms outside, some kind of steel bodies. They're not non-stick, but they're easy to clean if you let them soak in water a bit. Frying pans are a different case; she's currently using one of Cuisinart's non-PTFE non-stick-coating types most of the time, though occasionally she'll get out an older cast aluminum frying pan she's had for some decades.

#869 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 10:52 PM:

On techniques for the brewing of tea and coffee: For tea on the road, I usually just use teabags with decent tea in them, or else those pressed-bullet-shaped Chinese tuocha - the leaves mostly sink to the bottom, and you can make three or four cups by just adding more water. At home I've found that a large French press is much less trouble than the succession of teapots I've used.

For coffee, finely ground Turkish is the simplest - just add boiling water, stir, let the mud settle to the bottom. It's the right strength if the spoon doesn't fall over but also doesn't melt. I remember traveling around the middle east in the mid-80s, and any time we'd stop the bus driver would be having that kind of coffee with the gas station/hotel/etc. locals. But if we wanted coffee, they'd give us powdered Nescafe, because that's what tourists drink, and it usually took a lot of convincing to get real coffee.

More recently, you can get plastic French-Press makers at camping stores, which survive travel and also make near-perfect coffee. I've also been really happy with the Aerobie Aeropress espresso maker. Yes, they're better known for making dog frisbees, but the owner travels a lot, likes coffee, and can manufacture plastic things, and it's got a lot of deep design insight as well as making good coffee and being nearly self-cleaning. Available on the web and occasionally at cooking stores. Last time I went camping was some years ago, and I took a basic mocha pot, the classic exploding aluminum stovetop things, which behaved just as badly as it does at home; the Aeropress will do a lot better next time.

#870 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 11:44 PM:

For travel purposes, what about the metal drip filters for Vietnamese coffee? They're small, sturdy, and easy to use, although some models can be more difficult to clean than others if tiny jags of sharp metal were left sticking up from the holes inside the main perforated section. (My fingertips healed eventually.)

It makes a tiny amount of thick, syrupy espresso; instead of the traditional condensed milk, I usually pour it into about a pint of regular milk (microwaved hot, or cold with ice cubes depending on the weather).

#871 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 03:23 AM:

Marilee @ 865: I have a couple similar to that, only mesh rather than perforated metal. I do use them when travelling; they're not bad.

My real problem is at conferences or meetings where I want something I consider drinkable (coffee gives me headaches and bad tea tastes awful) but need to be discreet about it.

Bill Stewart @ 869: When not concerned about space/weight, nor about looking odd by using my own mug, I carry a metal travel mugs with a built-in French press. Not bad, except that it holds heat so well it takes a while to get cool enough to drink, and some tea (liquid sort) stays in the bottom, which I consider a waste (and I accidentally screwed the bottom piece back on upside down so the bottom space is larger than it should be, and I can't get it off again, which is frustrating). I got mine at *bucks; looking at the top I see it's made by Bodum.

#872 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 05:20 AM:

dcb @871: Disposable filter pads are cheap (less than 5 EUR for a pack of 50 around here). I haven't tried using them with tea, but they ought to work just fine. I gave mine away on Freecycle along with our Senseo machine, or else I'd give it a try.

Regarding the fabric for making your own, material like the one used for laundry mesh bags looks like it'd work well. Now I want to make my own. You could add a drawstring to make it easier to fill and empty.

#873 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 05:42 AM:

Pendrift @ 872:
Hey, those look like they might work for conferences etc. I already have a couple of plastic boxes which hold five tea bags each - wonder if these would fit? I'll have to keep an eye out for the filter pads on sale in a physical store (not so cheap online once you add in postage)

Re: home-made mesh/material reusable tea bags, yes, a drawstring would be important - there are at least a couple of designs online - just G**gle for "reuseable tea bag" and you'll get both sites to buy them from and patterns for making them. I'm not great at sewing but even I think I can follow the designs.

#874 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 05:56 AM:

dcb @873: I found them in appliance stores, in the accessories bin of the coffeemaker/espresso maker section, but I've never seen them in our grocery stores. The pads are about the same size as the round Tetley drawstring teabags; they'd probably fit in your plastic boxes.
The refillable plastic pods are easier to find in supermarkets but they take up more space. As usual, YMMV.

#875 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 06:02 AM:

Pendrift @ 874: Thanks for the advice. At least I now know where to look.

#876 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 08:17 AM:

Regarding coffee: Allow me to second Bill Stewart's recommendation of the Aeropress, in his comment #869. We have one. It makes very good coffee, very quickly. As I type this comment, both Abi and Teresa are drinking coffee made with it, right across the room from me.

Its one drawback, and it's pretty minor, is that it uses up slightly more coffee in the process of making each cup than other methods of brewing do.

Regarding tea, I use T-Sac fillable tea bags at work, and these particular excellent, easily-cleaned tea infuser baskets at home. The single biggest reason most Americans think tea is tasteless slop is that all the tea they've ever encountered was made with pre-filled tea bags full of floor sweepings. Black tea made from decent loose leaves has the same relationship to supermarket teabag tea that single-malt Scotch has to Canadian Club.

Regarding Xopher's observation (in #867) that the New York Times is habitually "snooty about any hobby that isn't for cool rich people", this may in fact be true, but the profile of Paul Krugman under discussion actually appeared in the New Yorker. Fun fact: The New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, New York magazine, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Science Fiction are actually all separate publications, with different strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and failings. When objecting to other people overgeneralizing, it's a good idea to avoid doing so one's self.

#877 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 08:30 AM:

I second Patrick's recommendation of those excellent filter baskets. It's the same mesh used in Chatsford pots, which I also heartily recommend.

I've also been known to put jasmine pearl tea right into my mug. The leaves, when unfurled, are big enough that you aren't at risk of drinking them, and you can get two infusions out of them.

#878 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Of course, bagged tea doesn't have to be bad (he says with his stash of PG Tips), but most bagged American tea I've encountered is.

I've learned the hard way not to ask for tea in restaurants in the US, as they'll bring you a cup of warm water and a bag of Lipton. I think I could get the same taste by filling a mug from the gutter, but I'm not willing to try.

#879 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Patrick is right again. Mea culpa. I should have said this instead:

The New Yorker is snooty about any hobby that isn't for cool rich people.
They are separate publications, but they share that trait.

#880 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:43 AM:

Actually, now that I'm rethinking that comment, I really should have said "rich hipsters." It would codify my contempt for them more succinctly. Oh well. We all know what a sloppy screwup I am. :'-(

#881 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:45 AM:

I actually don't think the New Yorker displays that trait anywhere near as reliably as the New York Times does, but we can argue about it over lunch.

#882 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:54 AM:

KeithS, #878: Agreed--PG Tips is pretty decent tea. ("Tea you can stand a spoon up in," is I believe how Rob Hansen once put it to me.)

#883 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 11:26 AM:

Science writer and SF novelist Charles Pellegrino is in hot water for publishing astounding revelations in his book The Last Train from Hiroshima that relied on a questionable (and easily-checked) witness.

#884 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 11:45 AM:

#863 etc.

I feel that you are all, in some worrying sense, my people.

#885 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 11:57 AM:

Patrick, #876: Black tea made from decent loose leaves has the same relationship to supermarket teabag tea that single-malt Scotch has to Canadian Club Simply Orange has to Bluebird.

Bluebird orange juice is made from the oranges that can't be sold anywhere else -- underripe, overripe, windfalls, frost-damaged, etc. They will literally buy anything bearing the name "orange" and make juice out of it. The only time I've ever been throwing-up-sick on an airplane was after drinking that stuff.

Also, Xopher may have been confused about the name of the publication, but it is nonetheless true that the writer of that article was unbecomingly snotty about people who go to Worldcons, and in a way which suggests that she doesn't think they have enough money to be People Who Matter.

#886 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Lee@885: I'm confused; even after a refresh, Patrick@876 shows the original whiskey wording, so I don't know where the orange juice comparison tht you're taking issue with comes from.

Amusingly, neither orange juice brand is familiar to me. Around here (Minnesota) it's things like Tropicana and Florida's Natural. But I'm familiar with the whiskeys :-).

#887 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 01:17 PM:

And I would like to second Patrick's enthusiasm for the T-Sac bags.

I have a stash of them that I got as samples from the buyers for A Major Organic Foods Wholesaler (that is, *they* got them as Samples, and *I* got them when they were cleaning out the office cabinets)

I especially like the larger ones, because I can brew a full quart Thermos(tm) for my ride to work (It's almost an hour's drive these days)

I can use Real Tea to make the brew, rather than having to rely on stuffing a couple of commercial tea bags in (If I use the tea bags with attached strings I can actually get the tea leaves *out* of the Thermos(tm) and the T-Sac comes out very cleanly)

ANd we have a couple of the mesh infusers around as well.

But we get most of our mail-order loose teas from Upton Tea Imports, and *our* turnaround on shipping is quick because we happen to be in the same state as they are (Massachusetts)

Plus they have nice articles ("I'm not really addicted to buying tea -- I just go there for the articles")

#888 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 02:16 PM:

If you're in the US, and are unwilling to pay 50 cents a bag for PG Tips (if you can find it), Tetley's British Blend is available in supermarkets all over the country, and isn't completely disgusting. Admittedly, it was a hard year or so after moving here, having tea bags shipped from the UK, before we discovered them, and so our standards may have slipped somewhat. I do sometimes have to make special trips to get them though, as they're only available at one of the three grocery stores I usually shop at. Also, it's just an all purpose breakfast blend - nothing fancy - and strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar. (I know, I know. I LIKE sugar!)

#889 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 02:22 PM:

Tea: I'm still going through the brick of tea I got at Monticello.¹ It's very good tea, though having to shave it off the brick is a bit annoying. Also, it comes off with enough fine powder that I don't even bother with an infuser, I just brew it loose in the cup.

¹ It's in their gift shop because that's how tea was shipped in Jefferson's time -- at the Boston Tea Party, it was bricks of tea that they were throwing overboard.

#890 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 02:31 PM:

re 883: It's sounds as though Fuoco borrowed the accident with the "demon core" that killed Louis Slotin.

#891 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Keith S @ 878: I've learned the hard way not to ask for tea in restaurants in the US, as they'll bring you a cup of warm water and a bag of Lipton I've discovered similar problems at conference centres/posh conference hotels the world over: proper brewed coffee for the coffee drinkers, but either not-very-nice, too weak tea, or if tea bags are provided, usually insufficiently hot water to brew it properly.

David Dyer-Bennet @ 886: I think he was making what he considered to be a more accurate comparison - tea bag tea being made with very poor quality tea such as floor sweepings and Bluebird, apparently, with similarly poor oranges which would have been rejected from any other use.

#892 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 03:10 PM:

An open thread request, resulting from reading how The Ancient Roman Reading Craze took down the Roman Empire.

Can someone write an example of choliambus (mimiambus) meter, The Comic Trimeter, in English? Here are Google Books links to descriptions (with Greek or Latin examples) in The Metres of the Greeks and Romans, and in The Universal Cyclopaedia (published 1900) within Iambic Meter.

#893 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 03:43 PM:

dcb #891:

As a USian who's learned not to order hot tea except in Britojoints, tea houses, or Asian restaurants, my real objection is the little metal pots with the hot water in them, because they appear to be deliberately designed to pour as much water[1] as possible all over everything including your lap.

[1] of whatever temperature, and I will be the first to admit that the metal doesn't help to keep it hot, always assuming it started out that way

#894 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 04:27 PM:

One of the pleasures of living in the greater SF Bay Area is being able to buy tea at ethnic grocery stores. I mostly drink Chinese black teas these days (Aged Pu-erh being somewhat the single-malt analogy), so the Chinese grocery stores or fancy tea stores cover those, and if I want Indian/British/Russian style teas (hey, sometimes I drink bourbon instead of single-malts...), the local Persian grocery has been more consistent than hitting either the Indian groceries or the Russian delis.

I've generally viewed the coffee-pod market as a way to sell individually-packaged overpriced uninspired preground coffee, using machines that don't let me buy whatever interesting beans are in the store. They're better than instant, or than American grocery store canned coffee that's been sitting too long on the burner of a Mr. Coffee machine, but I can get cheap interesting coffee at Trader Joe's or fancy interesting coffee at lots of places.

#895 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 04:38 PM:

I'm neither a coffee nor a tea drinker, but my husband recently got the Clever Coffee Dripper from Sweet Marias, and it looks to me as though it would be just as happy brewing tea as coffee. Of course, tea drinkers would want a dedicated tea one. It's a filter cone holder which has a valve, so instead of the water pouring straight through, it holds the water as a full-immersion brewer until you put it onto your coffee (or tea) mug, which opens the valve and allows the brew to pour out through the filter.

Its one flaw is that it doesn't come with a lid to hold the heat in, but ziplock brand reusable container lids fit reasonably well, and I imagine others would, too. (My husband made a more thermally insulating lid out of old styrofoam plates.) The filters themselves are cheap and readily available, and would certainly keep bits of loose tea leaf out of your cup.

#896 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 04:50 PM:

joann @ 893: I loath those too, for the same reasons.

Bill Stewart @ 894 (hey, sometimes I drink bourbon instead of single-malts...) So do I. I've got a bottle of Blanton's and a bottle of Rock Hill Farms single barrel bourbon in with my single malts - and a couple of Irish whiskeys as well. Sometimes I'm in the mood for one of the sweeter ones (Irish or bourbon).

#897 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Good to see everybody drinks tea with such infusiasm.

#898 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 897... Quite a steep beginning up there.

#899 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 06:01 PM:

I'm currently reading the new book by Timothy Ferris, The Science of Liberty. The book's theme is that the rise of political liberalism was linked to the rise of the science, and he makes a good case.

Out of curiosity, I checked the reviews on Amazon, and saw that Ferris headed towards the Author's Big Mistake in responding to a review. Fortunately, he quit the contest after a couple of replies, but for those who are interested, the exchange is at:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1GNO8ZCBJ6WNY/ref=cm_cr_dp_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0060781505&nodeID=283155#wasThisHelpful

The Science of Liberty comments

This John C. Langdon person seems hell-bent on jumping on any indication that science, (particularly "Darwinism") might be a positive thing.

#900 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:00 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 897: Uh oh, is this place about to become a tisane asylum?

#901 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Arnold Arboretum in Boston has a tea tree (Camellia sinesis or something like that -- means "Chinese camellia") happily thriving outside on the grounds, for those who might be interested in growing their own....

as for
#883 Bill
Oops! Hmm, do I detect a candidate for a bad research panel?!

#902 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:13 PM:

#900 David

Who are you tellling to leave the premisses, and via which root?

#903 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:22 PM:

At home, I usually put my leaves into the infuser of the iced tea machine and when I want hot tea, I just zap a mugful. But when I want more than a cup, I put the leaves in the ceramic infuser that goes in the ceramic pot.

#904 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Shameless plug for tea lovers here, as well as those craving food items from the British Isles-- Brits in Lawrence, KS, carries a wide range of teas, treats and staples. My sister started the business, I am lame at pasting links but using Google brought it up as the top listing.

http://www.britsusa.com/

She keeps Jim in Lapsang Souchong...

#905 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:30 PM:

Paula #902: Well, that's down to the dependent variables, but I wouldn't want to exclude any solutions. After all, our interest in "t" extends to both past and future, even more complex options. (Hmm. I wish this medium allowed for more inflection....)

#906 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Paula, 904: HURRAY! Walkers Stem Ginger Biscuits! Oh boy oh boy oh boy....

#907 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Two online sources of excellent tea:

Camilla Sinensis. I first became aware of this outstanding Montreal tea shop when Jo Walton came to NYC for a Nebula Awards weekend and brought me a small quantity of some of the best Darjeeling I'd ever had in my life. I've subsequently been to the actual shop in person on a couple of occasions; they have a little teahouse/restaurant attached. They ship to the US.

Subtle Tea. New York City tea shop with a silly name. But some of their teas are excellent. Their golden Yunnan is what I drink more of than anything else. Because for that is what I am doing.

#908 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Also:

B. Durbin #25, 88: Yikes!

My own paternal grandfather nearly took Grandma with him, though he was pretty compos mentis until endstage. She (4'6" or so) was doing home dialysis on him (most of 6 feet).

Carrie S. @ 45. Shivery...

#909 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 08:02 PM:

David, #886: Oops, misplaced close-tag on the italics; the OJ reference was my addition, and the follow-up paragraph was to explain why. I thought it might be useful to other people who don't drink whiskey, and who therefore understand that Patrick's comparison is supposed to be uncomplimentary but not why.

If you ever encounter Simply Orange, do try it. We used to drink Tropicana, but their quality has dropped dramatically over the last 5 years or so, and Simply Orange has stepped up to fill in the gap.

I've been living with a full-fledged Tea Snob for 11 years now, and it appears to be contagious...

#910 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 08:03 PM:

dcb @ 855: "yes, but I've never met a teapot which didn't drip/lose tea down the spout (at least while I was using it) and I find them a pain to get the tea leaves out of."

If it's dripping, then you're probably not tipping it enough--the pot should be tipped ninety degrees or more, with a thumb on the lid to keep it from falling out. (This video is a bit elaborate, but gives a good idea of how far to tip the pot.)

Most pots have either a narrow spout or a ceramic strainer to keep whole leaves in, but not all pots--you do have to look for it. Smaller bits of leaf will come out will ye or nil ye, so if that's a problem for you I can't recommend Chinese-style brewing.

"And if you make the tea in the mug you're going to use to drink it from, it's the right amount of water."

The problem with brewing tea in the cup you're drinking from is that the tea continues to steep as you drink it, making it hard to control the temperature and intensity of the infusion. In Chinese-style brewing, ideally one uses the same leaves for a number of infusions (perhaps as many as seven or eight), but only for twenty or thirty seconds each time. That's the logic of the ridiculously small pots--using a Western-sized teapot would end up with gallons of tea. It allows a much greater control over the temperature and therefore over flavor, and the many short brews allow you to taste differences as the tea develops between brews. It is, I must admit, a bit of a pain compared with tea bags, but IMHO it's a world of difference in flavor.

It's geared towards very different priorities than the style of tea brewing that most Westerners are used to. I guess I hadn't realized how different they were until I started talking about it.

#911 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 08:13 PM:

Patrick @ 907: "Their golden Yunnan is what I drink more of than anything else."

Oh! Me too! I love Yunnan Gold. It's what has set me on this long and dangerous path to utter tea geekery. I'm drinking it right now, actually.

#912 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Oh, dear. I just saw this:

Walter Koenig's son Andrew is missing. He was last seen in Vancouver on February 14th, and his parents received a "very despondent" sounding letter from him on the 16th.

#913 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ #901: the Charleston Tea Plantation has been known to give away tea seeds, but I don't know if they'd let you have cuttings.

#914 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:14 PM:

I don't like coffee that hasn't been diluted with milk and a bunch of caramel and/or vanilla syrup-- if I say I had 'a coffee' I mean 'a caffeinated liquid Milky Way bar'-- and tea... I recently realized that it's not that it's tasteless or that it tastes like hot water (okay, Chinese restaurant tea is hot water), but that I do not like the taste of tea.

That said, I left Alpha this past summer with a great appreciation for cinnamon tea, which is Good Earth Original, all sorts of good associations there. Happily, made the way I do, it becomes strong enough to taste good as it becomes cool enough not to take off my tastebuds, and as it becomes too cold, it also becomes too strong. It all lines up so nicely.

#915 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:28 PM:

B, Durbin @ #25, that made me cry.

I'm praying no one I know goes into dementia. I've already had a friend pass after the side effects of stroke after stroke after stroke (some small, tia events, some not so much). I would be able to cope, but oh, the sadness of it!

Blessings.

#916 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2010, 10:42 PM:

http://mumbrella.com.au/acma-unveils-online-complaints-process-for-commercial-radio-industry-18821?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mumbrella+%28mUmBRELLA%29

Australian advertisers must now accept complaints online.

Somehow this seems like asking for trouble.

Voices of real people may be drowned out by zombie spammer trolls. What to do about this? Can media people know the difference?

#917 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 03:32 AM:

heresiarch @ 910: The problem with brewing tea in the cup you're drinking from is that the tea continues to steep as you drink it Not if you put the tea leaves into an in-mug infuser (net or ceramic) and remove that once the tea is steeped. About the only one I put in loose in the mug is the oolong. I do use some of the green teas more than once. The flavoured black teas I tend to like strong and well brewed, which doesn't allow for re-use very well.

However, even with say jasmine green tea I like it steeped for much more than 20-30 seconds - more like a couple of minutes. I suppose I should try the shorter times more, but I don't get enough flavour - maybe I've ruined my palate drinking microbrewery beers and single malts?

As for the tea pots - try tipping one of those 'orrible metal ones that far - with your bare finger on the bare, hot, metal knob...

#918 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 03:33 AM:

heresiarch @ 910: The problem with brewing tea in the cup you're drinking from is that the tea continues to steep as you drink it Not if you put the tea leaves into an in-mug infuser (net or ceramic) and remove that once the tea is steeped. About the only one I put in loose in the mug is the oolong. I do use some of the green teas more than once. The flavoured black teas I tend to like strong and well brewed, which doesn't allow for re-use very well.

However, even with say jasmine green tea I like it steeped for much more than 20-30 seconds - more like a couple of minutes. I suppose I should try the shorter times more, but I don't get enough flavour - maybe I've ruined my palate drinking microbrewery beers and single malts?

As for the tea pots - try tipping one of those 'orrible metal ones that far - with your bare finger on the bare, hot, metal knob...

#919 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 03:37 AM:

Double post due to cat walking over keyboard. I was worried it was going to be about eight copies but it appears only one extra took.

#920 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 03:54 AM:

Has anyone tried blending their own teas? I bought a wonderful orange chili tea in a medieval fair in the Netherlands last year and I'm down to my penultimate teacup. I don't know if I'll ever find it again and want to try making my own. Any tips? Should I throw in dried chilis or chili flakes or tip a bottle of Tabasco into a pound of tea, shake it around, cross my fingers and hope my head doesn't explode?

#921 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 05:01 AM:

dcb @917-919, cat typing detection software is available for both Windows and Mac these days. Not sure about a Linux version, though.

#922 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 05:03 AM:

Hey, Scalzi! Tell your guys over at MGM that their clocks are running fast. They said their SGU mid-season cliffhanger graphic novel contest was going to be taking entries until 2/23/10 11:59:59. I went over (okay, okay, it was 11:55, but really!) to submit mine, but the link was already gone.

I think I'm going to go have a serious sulk, now.

(And none of this is aided in the least to my growing addiction to the show.... Or maybe it is. Wait, I'm confused. What time is it? YIKES!)

#923 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 05:08 AM:

dcb #917: As for the tea pots - try tipping one of those 'orrible metal ones that far - with your bare finger on the bare, hot, metal knob...

Oh, and as for that, just pop a small rubber clown nose over the metal knob to protect your bare finger; if necessary, you can also partially fill the clown nose with insulating fluff of some kind (which should also be helpful for wintry clown activities).

#924 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 05:43 AM:

Well, it looks like Australia is pretty hosed; I feel sorry for the people running Aussiecon 4. International travel to that country is going to be more of a freaking pain than ever before.

#925 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 07:03 AM:

When I saw the most recent Penny Arcade, my first thought was, "Is this a Particle (or Sidelight) yet?"

It wasn't, so I offer it here. It is relevant to the Fluorosphere's interests.

#926 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 07:29 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 921: I knew something like this existed, but didn't know if any of them were any good, nor how much system resources they use.

The worst was the time she managed to set the screen to 90 degrees from normal. I hadn't even known that was possible, never mind how to do it, and I still can't work out what keystrokes she used. Correcting it took some time, with the mouse moving strangely etc. I now know to go to Desktop, right click, choose Graphic Options-Rotation-Normal - but difficult to do with the mouse and screen at 90 degrees to one another.

Anyone know how to do it in keystrokes?

#927 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 07:44 AM:

As far as I can tell, the Latin at the end of that Penny Arcade strip is just gibberish. But I've asked the folks on the LatinStudy list to see if someone with more expertise than me (not too hard) can make anything out of it.

#928 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 08:00 AM:

dcb @926: There's Control + Alt + down arrow on Win XP, but that rotates the screen 180°. I'm not sure if the left or right arrow rotates the screen 90°. You could always give it a try and report the results.

#929 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 08:12 AM:

dcb @926 said: The worst was the time [dcb's cat] managed to set the screen to 90 degrees from normal. I hadn't even known that was possible, never mind how to do it, and I still can't work out what keystrokes she used.

My grandmother manages to do stuff like that. I'll go over to her house for some social reason and "while I'm there" she'll ask me to "fix her computer." She has repeatedly managed to do things like make the bar across the top of Word that says things like 'File Edit Format', disappear. More than once I've had to reinstall her computer's OS or programs, as I haven't been able to figure out how to undo whatever her random, accidental button-mashing did.

David Goldfarb @927 said: As far as I can tell, the Latin at the end of that Penny Arcade strip is just gibberish.

It is, however, gibberish that appears at least once more on the internet -- in a Croatian webpage full of keywords to encourage you to come click on it.

#930 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 08:26 AM:

Pendrift @ 928: in the interests of science, and the spirit of experimentation, although with some trepidation, I just tried AltGr/Ctrl* and the arrow keys. Left and Right arrow keys rotated 90 degrees, down arrow put it upside down and, thankfully, the up key restored it to normal, so I was able to type this message.

Freya is more "needy" since her sister died, and generally wants to sit on my lap (of course) rather than on the cushion which I placed on my desk for her. They had both worked out that standing between me and the screen (i.e. on the keyboard/handrest of the laptop), or sitting on the papers I was looking at, forced me to pay attention to them.

*These are side by side and just above-left of the left arrow key, so her pressing them together seemed possible.

#931 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 08:56 AM:

I struggled, but Paul's goons held me fast. I couldn't do anything.

"I'll show you, Karen," said Paul. "He isn't even alive." Triumphantly he held up a small round box, carved from a single piece of wood. My talisman. How had he gotten it? Mrs. Zimmerman would never have given it to him. The pulsing began.

"No, Karen!" I cried. "Don't listen to him!" She looked at me, her face filled with doubt and fear.

Paul cut open the wax seal on the talisman, and opened it. Inside were a small wooden disk, a dead insect of some kind, and another box.

"No, Paul, please!" I wept and fought, but to no avail. He opened the second box: more components of the spell, and a still smaller box. So it went, until he'd opened them all. He scattered all the tiny objects around.

Karen was looking at me now, with pity and horror, her face streaming with tears. She knew.

The next thing I remember, I was walking through the woods on the hill below Mrs. Zimmerman's house. I must have killed Paul and his goons; my orders were to eliminate anyone who found out I was an animated revenant. But I couldn't have killed Karen, could I? No, no, I couldn't have. But I wasn't sure how I could even be walking; by all I knew, I should have dropped the instant Paul broke the seal on my talisman. And my knees hurt, as did my eyes. How could a walking corpse feel pain?

Bzz, bzz, bzz. I knew I could figure all this out, if only the infernal pulsing would stop. I had to get to Mrs. Zimmerman's house.

I must have broken in, but no one was there. The pulsing buzz was getting louder. Finally I found Mrs. Zimmerman's peculiar radio, the one shaped like a glass of water. I popped each of the toggle switches around the base of the glass, and each of the indicator lights went out. But somehow the pulsing continued, and got louder...and the world dissolved around me.

I was lying in bed, face down. I had crashed out, fully clothed, above the covers, with my lower legs (wearing, of course, my heaviest boots) hanging off the edge, and my contacts still in. I struggled to my feet (damn but my knees hurt), turned off my fucking alarm clock, took my morning meds, got the contacts out of my dry and aching eyes, and went back to bed.

Yes, I really have these vivid nightmares. They're almost at the level of usable fiction, so I wouldn't mind the fear and horror I experience while dreaming them, except for one thing: they all end with And Then I Woke Up. I tell you, it's damned annoying.

(And no, I have no idea who any of the other people in this dream were. Blah blah blah, purely coincidental &c.)

#932 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 09:06 AM:

Xopher @931: I'm glad I'm not the only one. The last one of any consequence involved me being a sociology student impersonating a Klingon nun [note: entire character class invented by this dream; called 'Klingons' for convenience although no lobsterheads were involved] who then found a life's mission in the work that such folk do, namely by calm submission and utter lack of rank or ego defuse the species' temper and prevent about 1/3 of all honor duels-to-the-death from happening. And then a local asked me why I was 'faking' it, and in the process of me telling him what it was about the job I found so wonderfully fulfilling, I insulted his species' honor and he killed me.

#933 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 09:58 AM:

Tea geekery:

I have become much more of a tea purist since the discovery of Dobra Tea downtown (within walking distance of class! and work!). Thanks to these lovely people, I have now discovered that chrysanthemum puer is, quite possibly, the greatest beverage known to man. And I discovered that the reason I didn't like green tea was the green tea I'd always had before was terrible; now I buy expensive green tea and am happy.

I see they've finally put up an online store, but unfortunately they don't sell their chrysanthemum puer blend, or their house blend called Sweet Smell of Jerusalem, which is my second-favorite.

#934 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Apropos of nothing at all, may I present for the delight and delectation of the assembled: CodeOrgan. Try it with the URL for Making Light's front page, or even this one.

#935 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 12:54 PM:

Question for the resident music mavens: Was rewatching Stargate: Universe's episode "Light," last night, and something struck me about the music track:

There's a melodic percussive instrument in there that sounds for all the world like someone's whacking a length of PVC pipe with a soft mallet, and then doing something to modulate the pitch.

What the hell is that thing (if it's not just some electronic sampling wizardry)?

I really like it. (I generally am liking the music in this thing a lot.)

#936 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:10 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 927: As far as I can tell, the Latin at the end of that Penny Arcade strip is just gibberish.

I think it's something like "until all have been banished", although you (and others here) have much more Latin knowledge than I do.

#937 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Jacque @935: Could be a boomwhacker, beloved of children's percussion groups -- they even come in different pitches.

#938 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Xopher #931, Elliott Mason #932: Hmm, are either or both of you on antidepressants? SSRIs (and kin such as Effexor) are known for producing vivid, bizarre dreams. As I recall, these "Prozac dreams" characteristically have a strong emotional overlay, consistent for a given person.

#939 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:34 PM:

heresiarch@910: In my experience, the problem with brewing in the cup you're going to drink in is keeping the temperature high enough for proper brewing. If I heated the water in the microwave in the mug (so the mug is all hot) and I put a saucer over it as soon as the tea goes in, that helps some, but it's not as good as a real pot, preheated, under a tea cozy. I mostly use the mug anyway, since I'm mostly making tea for just me, or at most two people total, and the pot is just too much trouble.

#940 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:39 PM:

Yep. Lexapro here.

#941 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:40 PM:

David Harmon @938: Nope, not for nearly a decade now.

#942 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Addendum to my last: and the oddest thing about my dreams isn't how vivid they are, it's that they have cinematography. Camera moves, swoops, pans, pov -- it's like watching a movie, or rather in many cases like doing a movie in a VR rig.

#943 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 02:22 PM:

Carol Witt@936: Someone on the LatinStudy list said much the same; "insquequo" and "exulans" are apparently Medieval Latin, which is why they didn't show up in my Classical reference works.

#944 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 02:28 PM:

dcb @ 918: "However, even with say jasmine green tea I like it steeped for much more than 20-30 seconds - more like a couple of minutes. I suppose I should try the shorter times more, but I don't get enough flavour - maybe I've ruined my palate drinking microbrewery beers and single malts?"

Oh you should end up with weaker tea--when using the little bitty pots and short brew times, you also use a much higher tea-to-water ratio--it's not uncommon put in enough tea that when the leaves unfurl, they nearly fill the pot. With that much tea, twenty seconds gets plenty of flavor. (That many leaves also prevents them from swishing around, which keeps them from coming out the spout.)

F'rex: instead of putting half a tablespoon of leaves in a 12 oz mug and brewing it twice for 3 minutes, yielding 24 oz of tea, you put half a tablespoon of leaves in a 2 oz pot* and brew it twelve times for 30 seconds,** also for a total of 24 oz. The length of brew time and tea-water ratio are fixed, so the variable that controls how much tea you end up with is the size of the pot.

Now, my pot isn't nearly that small--it's about 6ish oz, and my partner and I typically drink many, many cups of tea in a day. We leave the leaves in the pot all day long, adding more water when we want tea; it's not Best Brewing Practice but hey, human limitations.

*I'm ignoring the displacement volume of the tea leaves, which is significant with high tea-water ratios.

**Well, really what happens is the first few brews are for twenty seconds, gradually lengthening, and at the end are as long as a minute (depending how tolerant you are of over-brewed tea).

#945 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 02:32 PM:

dcb @ 918: "However, even with say jasmine green tea I like it steeped for much more than 20-30 seconds - more like a couple of minutes. I suppose I should try the shorter times more, but I don't get enough flavour - maybe I've ruined my palate drinking microbrewery beers and single malts?"

Oh you shouldn't end up with weaker tea--when using the little bitty pots and short brew times, you also use a much higher tea-to-water ratio. It's not uncommon put in enough tea that when the leaves unfurl, they nearly fill the pot. With that much tea, twenty seconds gets plenty of flavor. (That many leaves also prevents them from swishing around, which keeps them from coming out the spout.)

F'rex: instead of putting half a tablespoon of leaves in a 12 oz mug and brewing it twice for 3 minutes, yielding 24 oz of tea, you put half a tablespoon of leaves in a 2 oz pot* and brew it twelve times for 30 seconds,** also for a total of 24 oz. The length of brew time and tea-water ratio are fixed, so the variable that controls how much tea you end up with is the size of the pot.

Now, my pot isn't nearly that small--it's about 6ish oz, and my partner and I typically drink many, many cups of tea in a day. We leave the leaves in the pot all day long, adding more water when we want tea; it's not Best Brewing Practice but hey, human limitations.

*I'm ignoring the displacement volume of the tea leaves, which is significant with high tea-water ratios.

**Well, really what happens is the first few brews are for twenty seconds, gradually lengthening, and at the end are as long as a minute (depending how tolerant you are of over-brewed tea).

#946 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Elliot and Xopher: ditto the Movie drama dreams, but the only drug I'm taking (for fibro) is Flexeril a/k/a Cyclobenzaprine. AFAIK, blood pressure meds don't have that effect.

And yes, definitely cinematography -- complete with Man from U.N.C.L.E. disolves and sometimes scored as well. And the not knowing what happened next makes me very grumpy when I wake from one of these dreams.

Have you ever been able to 'recover' one the next night so you could find out what happens? I've tried, but so far it hasn't worked.

#947 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 02:40 PM:

D'oh! I accidentally clicked post instead of preview, but I thought I caught it before it sent. Well. Consider #945 the definitive version.

David Harmon @ 939: "In my experience, the problem with brewing in the cup you're going to drink in is keeping the temperature high enough for proper brewing."

Yes, that's the issue. A lot of the more complex tea flavors are produced at the moment of brewing, and high temperature is very important to bringing out all the aromatics. Short brew times are preferred for precisely that reason. (The other reason is that tea develops over its brewing cycle--the first flavors to emerge are different from later ones, and short brew times capture those changes at a higher resolution.)

#948 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 03:46 PM:

heresiarch @945
Okay, well, I'll dig out the teapot and try it sometime, see if it works. My assumptions were based on restaurant green tea, which is usually too weak for my tastes.

(Continue in the new Open Thread?)

#949 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Lori Coulson @946 asked, in re cinematic dreams: Have you ever been able to 'recover' one the next night so you could find out what happens? I've tried, but so far it hasn't worked.

I have, but only a few times (usually within a few hours of waking, on the same night).

Not all of them are deeply emotionally-invested, and those that are vary all over the place. Some are just plain nifty, with no particular baggage to them.

#950 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Lori Coulson, #946, yes, I do. I have the feel of the last dream from the night before and I can move into that or let something new come.

#951 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2010, 12:44 AM:

Lori Coulson @937: Could be a boomwhacker, beloved of children's percussion groups -- they even come in different pitches.

Hah! I think you nailed it! I was actually speculating it might be xylophone-like in structure.

I also ponder the possibility of a trombone-style boomwhacker, too. Hm. Have to think about that.

I yuvz teh Flourines!

#952 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Also puts me in mind of Manheim Steamroller's use of the "toy" piano.

Meanhwile: breadcrumbs to Open Thread 136.

#953 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2010, 10:30 AM:

Just for the record, heresiarch #947 was in fact replying to another David.

#954 ::: P J Evans sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 02:43 PM:

It looks like comment spam, link in name.

#955 ::: P J Evans sees yet more spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2010, 09:19 PM:

.ru link in name. I am so not going there.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.